Archive for May 27th, 2012

If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.
Hunter S. Thompson

There are lawyers I know who would happily subscribe to this view in the current state of the legal services ‘market’;   cunningly being farked up by our political masters,  egged on by a herd of shield munching beserkers on the Tory backbenches.

Due to a rather grim illness I was unable to write UK Blawg Review in April when it was due.  I am pleased to be able to report that T’Grim Reaper was chased orf by a group of excellent NHS nurses and doctors whose advice I am taking, as opposed to my usual practice of operating  upon myself or medicating myself.

It is impossible to cover every UK Blawg. Quite apart from the fact that new ones appear all the time – thankfully – I’m not sure that anyone has a complete and precise list.  I shall do my best to give you an amusebouche, some hors d’œuvre, a fish and main course, some grande  fromages and a bit of pud to end.   I have no theme.

Today, as I start this ‘monster’ on a hot sunny Sunday afternoon, I am all about being ‘random’.  So with that precisely drafted caveat… let us begin our ‘journey’… to use a word so drenched in over-use it is almost BRUTal…. as in splash it all over.  I plan to do this UK  Blawg Review in three parts over this coming week  – for your / my  comfort, safety and sanity.  While tempted to begin with Part III…. that would only serve to confuse – so here is Part 1.

I am delighted to be hosting #10 of the UK Blawg Review roundup

(Albeit in 3 parts!)


Depressed about not getting a Schmorwell Prize? (I gather that someone is already ‘suing/muttering/sundry complaining’ to the Orwell Prize bods about the winner of the blog category for  basing the Orwell submission on his work…mon dieu…. how could  zat have happened?)

Don’t be… have a ‘Charon Caption Competition Prize” instead.
Jonathan Sykes at Wildy has kindly agreed to provide Professor Gary Slapper’s most excellent book (which I have read) as a prize for the best caption to the picture which follows.

More Weird Cases: Comic and Bizarre Cases from Courtrooms Around the World

Terms & Conditions

Well.. it would be remiss of me in a law blog to forget about T&Cs.

1.  There are no rules or limits – other than bad taste, which, of course, I am happy to encourage.

2.  The adjudication will be run as a ‘secret trial’ a la Kafka –   presided over by me, assisted by a ‘developed vetted’ secret jury selected by me.

3. In the finest traditions of The Grand Chamber of The European Court of Human Rights – from which I take my inspiration – there will be no ‘judgment’ or reasons given for my decision,  which shall be final.  For potential litigants in person and tin foil hat artistes out there – this means, essentially, that you can’t tie up what is left of my life with completely pointless litigation or tedious appeals.  Capische?

4.  Please submit your caption by using the comments section at the foot of this blog post.



A word to the wise is infuriating.
Hunter S. Thompson

I had the pleasure of meeting Kim Evans, commissioning editor of The Justice Gap blog, last week.  We are doing a one on one Without Prejudice ‘Special’ podcast later this week.  The Justice Gap blog is a very fine and useful resource with experienced contributors.  A piece entitled Welcome to Britain by Francis Fitzgibbon QC  – no stranger to appearing on Without Prejudice himself – examined the fiasco that is ‘Border Control’ and opened his piece thus:

After arriving at Gatwick Airport at midnight, I spent an hour queuing at passport control. It was inconvenient but hardly life-threatening. For the many young children, and for the elderly and infirm in the queue, it was miserable. Apart from some good-humoured grumbling no one protested. We were all in it together, as the saying goes. A large sign over the understaffed passport desks proclaims ‘UK BORDER’. Some one thought it was important for the frontier to be clearly marked. After baggage reclaim – indistinguishable from all others everywhere – the first truly British experience, and an impressive one, is the walk to the arrivals area, which as in a theme park filters the tired but relieved traveller through a retail opportunity – a large 24-hour off-licence. Welcome to Britain! Trebles all round! Oh, and the slow train into London was lightly scented with vomit.

Francis Fitzgibbon QC writes on his own blog Nothing Like The Sun and in a recent piece considered –  The New Snoop’s Charter and asked the question: How nervous should we be about the government’s proposals to make it easier for the authorities to monitor online communications?

On a flying visit to my mate The White Rabbit’s blog…. I just could not resist his blog post Flying Visit …. where he considers the title of an album ‘My lips are for blowing’. The White Rabbit blog should be core reading for lawyers who need a mid morning or mid-afternoon laugh.

I have taken to doing ‘Word du Jour’ on twitter recently.  The other day I came across *Ultracrepidarian* – Of one who speaks or offers opinions on matters beyond their knowledge.  A fine word.  I shall lose no time in shoehorning it into a speech should I find myself back on the debating floor soon.

Obfuscation is another fine word and one most useful to lawyers.  I agree with Babybarista… Keep it complicated.

Tim Kevan, author of Babybarista blog and books was kind enough to give an opportunity to do an interview… the only one I shall ever give… in his new Person of The Week on The Barrister Blog

As I know little of Family Law (nor care to) –  save for obtaining an ASBO preventing me from going within 200 yards of ANY premises where I may be tempted to marry again – I am sure John Bolch at Family Lore will not be offended by my failing to consider one of his more considered analyses of Family Law.  I can report, however, that I am enjoying his new satire Bleak Spouse .

Legal Cheek continues to reach parts of the legal profession other bloggers just can’t reach. Jaguar Shoes v Jaguar Cars: Blame It On The Lawyers! interested me.



“Lord Bingham considered tension between the judiciary and the government to be a healthy thing – who, after all, would wish to live in a country where all judicial decisions are welcomed by ministers? Nor is judicial activism a particularly new phenomenon. Three centuries ago, Bishop Hoadly observed: “Whoever hath an absolute authority to interpret any written or spoken laws, it is he who is truly the law-giver, not the person who first wrote or spoke them.” But however much we might admire judges like Tom Bingham, the rule of law must not mean rule by lawyers.”

Philip Johnstone in The Telegraph

One of the most topical Rule of Law issues at the moment is the prisoner votes controversy.  Our beloved coalition government appears to have developed a taste for lecturing others on their human rights abuses while performing the remarkable ‘conjuring trick’ of being able to persuade some members of the public that is is right to ignore the rule of law when it is not British rule of law but that dreadful stuff which makes prime minister Camcorderdirect ‘sick to his stomach’ – European Rule of Law.

I allowed myself a minor rant on the issue last week in a blog post.

The most useful UK Human Rights blog from 1 Crown Office Row is a good port of call for anyone interested in human rights. This week: The case for letting prisoners vote – Reuven Ziegler

Carl Gardner’s Head of Legal blog is also a first class source of analysis and opinion. Unsurprisingly, Carl consider the prisoner rights issue thoroughly: ECtHR Grand Chamber judgment: Scoppola v Italy

THE UKSC | BLOG in their The week That Was section noted the Scoppola case.


Such stuff as dreams are made on
William Shakespeare

Good friend and fellow blogging Scot Brian Inkster, who heads his own law  firm has started a new series on his Time Blawg:Travels through the Blawgosphere #1 (Innovation in Law)

Brian Inkster is an enthusiast for all social media maters and uses them to considered and good effect.  His most recent piece: Social Media and Legal Action: themeet140 Debate

Hunt is almost over

Ah… indeed… such stuff as dreams are made on!  Solicitor and New Statesman columnist David Allen Green on his Jack of Kent blog has a most interesting, albeit brief,  analysis of the ‘Matter of Jeremy Hunt MP’ (my highlighting): Hunt is almost over.  If you didn’t see David Allen Green’s excellent analysis of the now infamous NightJack outing – I drew attention to it here with all links.


And finally for Part 1…. I repeat a Muttley Dastardly LLP post I did recently because I am not convinced the SRA have got it right with their plan to scrap the minimum wage for trainees and I certainly don’t approve of the government ‘sack on a whim’ stunt.

Editorial Note: Dr Erasmus Strangelove pronounces his surname ‘Strangle – ov”  That is all.


To: All staff
21st May 2012

RE: SRA scrapping of trainee minimum wage and Government  ‘No fault Sackings’ proposals

1. The Partners met for a private lunch at Alan Ducasse’s rather fine restaurant at The Dorchester today to consider the implications of the scrapping of the minimum wage for trainees and Government proposals for ‘No Fault’ sackings.

2.  Consistent with our new transparency policy (Edict 302 14th April 2012 Para 458(a) ) I provide the menu below:

Many of you will know that this was the menu for first class passengers on that ill fated night 100 years ago when RMS Titanic sank- a metaphor for the dumbing down and sinking of the legal profession. Wine was not taken by The Partners as our contribution to the ‘National Austerity’.

First Course
Hors D’Oeuvres
Second Course
Consommé Olga
Cream of Barley
Third Course
Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce, Cucumbers
Fourth Course
Filet Mignons Lili
Saute of Chicken, Lyonnaise
Vegetable Marrow Farci
Fifth Course
Lamb, Mint Sauce
Roast Duckling, Apple Sauce
Sirloin of Beef, Chateau Potatoes
Green Pea
Creamed Carrots
Boiled Rice
Parmentier & Boiled New Potatoes
Sixth Course
Punch Romaine
Seventh Course
Roast Squab & Cress
Eighth Course
Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette
Ninth Course
Pate de Foie Gras
Tenth Course
Waldorf Pudding
Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly
Chocolate & Vanilla Eclairs
French Ice Cream

3.  RollonFriday.com reports:  “Trainees starting training contracts in 2014 can look forward to earning only the national minimum wage after the Solicitors Regulation Authority took the visionary step of scrapping trainees’ minimum salaries in England and Wales. The minimum wage currently runs to £6.08 an hour. On a standard 35-hour week (clearly pie in the sky for most law firm trainees), that comes to £11,065 a year.”

RollonFriday commented on a quite extraordinary statement from a spokesperson for the SRA : Samantha Barrass, SRA Executive Director (not paid minimum wage), said: “This decision was based on an objective consideration of very full and detailed evidence gathered through a variety of sources“. Although those objective considerations seem to have failed to take into account access, diversity, university fees, LPC oversupply or common decency.

4.  The Partners have voted unanimously to show solidarity with our regulatory masters by fully ridiculing this new policy as soon as the regulation comes into force.

5. While Vince ‘Flip-flop’ Cable is wringing his hands over admirable proposals cooked up by sundry shield munching Tory beserkers to make it easy to sack people at will and in a whim, we are taking close interest as part of our strategic ‘disruptive black psyops operation’ to see if any law firms are daft enough to (a) implement the minimum wage for trainees – pay peanuts, get monkeys and (b) take advantage of this absurd reform of employment law, in the unlikely event it avoids getting kicked into the long grass by the more sensible ‘wing’ of the Tory Party’.

6.  I am pleased to report that one of our disruptive black psyops operations – ‘Operation Kamikaze’ – is going well and we see the first green shoots of collectives of useless lawyers springing up in pop up law firms in empty high street shops which have gone tits up.

That is all

Dr Erasmus Strangelove
Senior Partner


Back Tuesday with Part 2 of UK Blawg Review #10

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Why Would Anyone Choose A Career In The Law Now?
This article was provided by 1stClaims, specialists in personal injury claims

The legal world was once considered a glamorous profession. Parents were proud of their children declaring their intent to be a solicitor (the term ‘lawyer’ was not used so liberally ten or twenty years ago). If you became a solicitor or a barrister you were rightly thought of as intelligent, compassionate to your clients’ causes and prepared to burn the midnight oil to ensure justice prevailed.

Now it seems that with years of challenges on professionals by the media and public notoriety for some lawyers who specialise in bending the law to ensure their clients avoid facing any criminal sanctions, the profession has fallen from grace. And all of this before I even mention the dreaded ‘Compensation Culture’, although let’s not forget that even David Cameron’s right hand man, Lord Young, who was ordered to end ‘Compensation Culture’ admitted in the opening remarks of his report that there was not one in existence. But hey ho, let us not let the facts get in the way of a good story…

So is there really any point in a bright eyed and bushy tailed student electing to choose law for their future career? Unless they are intent on using the law as a stepping stone to being a politician and then bringing in laws to end all profits for law firms once they are in power, should they bother?

Well, after a career in the law and on the fringes of it now for over 20 years, I would firmly say yes, absolutely. I worked in a traditional ‘High Street’ practice for most of my career within the walls of the legal profession and I gained an awful amount of satisfaction from helping people to solve their challenges. I dealt with all types of litigious matters, from neighbour disputes to serious injury claims, family law to recovering debts for them, and often my help took away an awful lot of stress and/or relived a huge financial burden.

I meet hundreds of lawyers every year and I know if they care about what they do when I ask them my favourite question “have you had any good results for your clients recently”? It is at this point that their eyes light up as they recall what a great outcome they achieved against the odds, and more importantly, how delighted the client was with help provided.

I am pleased to say there are still more lawyers enjoying what they do than not. Every year there are still thousands of clients delighted with their solicitors work and relived to have concluded a matter which was important to them, so if you are genuinely interested in the law, and in people, I still think a career in the law has an awful lot to offer. Just remember to never read a newspaper again and you will be fine…

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