Archive for May, 2012

With apologies to Superman and the artist of the original.

A short rant.  The UK Human Rights blog has responded with a detailed analysis of the latest prisoner votes case from Europe.

Adam Wagner writes:

CASE OF SCOPPOLA v. ITALY (No. 3)(Application no. 126/05) – Read judgment / press release / press release on UK implications

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that states must allow for at least some prisoners to vote, but that states have a wide discretion as to deciding which prisoners. This amounts to a retreat on prisoner votes, but certainly no surrender. As I predicted, the court reaffirmed the principles set out in Hirst No. 2, that an automatic and indiscriminate bans breach the European Convention on Human Rights, but also reaffirmed that it was up to states to decide how to remove those indiscriminate bans…..

Read more

The case is important.  For my part, I have no problem whatsoever with prisoners voting.  I rather hope that prisoners will return to society improved for paying their debt to society and be part of society.  Pie in the sky for recidivists… but an ideal to which we should aspire? I am, I suspect, in a sizeable minority.

My rant is about  statements from the prime minister and sundry shield munching Tory backbench beserkers  that Parliament is sovereign and ‘we’ should decide such matters, not ‘unelected judges’ in Europe.  Well apart  from the fact that Britain drafted the European Convention on Human Rights, signed the convention agreeing to the terms and theoretically believes in ‘The Rule of Law’ – the shield munchers have been queuing up in radio and TV studios to say that we should not apply the Rule of Law in this case – largely because, I suspect,  they fear for their thin majorities and general unpopularity with the electorate and face dismissal without help from their own proposed ‘Sack at will’ legislation – another deeply unpleasant proposal.  By all means sack the useless within the current long established unfair dismissal  rules – but is it honourable to sack to replace at a cheaper price?  Is that decent behaviour?

If we are not prepared to comply with treaty obligations – we can hardly point to  the behaviour of other nations and their human rights record..  I suspect there will be a ‘margin of appreciation’ fudge.  Perhaps the Government needs the services of The Twlawyer to assist them in their resolution of this thorny issue?


Sponsor: Get the legal support you need to file your claim from AccidentClaims.org


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Guest Post – Red Light on Olympic Marketing Campaigns
By Sarah Bazaraa, Pannone

With the Olympic Torch touring the UK and the countdown firmly underway Sarah Bazaraa 
from Manchester solicitors Pannone examines the legal implications of those businesses hoping to cash in on the games.

As the Olympic torch begins its journey around the UK it is clear that the countdown to London 2012 has well and truly begun. However, the Games may provide a bittersweet dilemma for businesses hoping to capitalise on the excitement surrounding the occasion given the strict laws restricting non-sponsors from cashing in on the Olympics brand.

London 2012 is relying on a large part of its £2 billion operating budget from sponsorship revenue. In order to secure that investment, official sponsors have been promised the right to an exclusive association with the Games. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is tasked with delivering on that promise by enforcing the legislation that has been implemented to prevent other businesses exploiting London 2012 without authorisation.

LOCOG can take legal action against any business which suggests an association between its goods or services and London 2012 without consent. Any unauthorised reference to the Games in marketing or advertising campaigns may amount to a breach of the legislation and could in the most serious circumstances result in an unlimited fine and criminal liability.

Notwithstanding the seriousness of the penalties, according to a survey carried out in 2009, at least 34% of businesses intend to undertake some marketing activity connected to the London 2012 Games. However, 87% admitted that they lacked awareness of the legality of those activities.

It is therefore critical that businesses quickly familiarise themselves with the rules. This is particularly important given the far reaching scope of the law.

The question of whether or not an unlawful association with London 2012 has been created will depend on the overall impression created by the marketing material or goods in question. An association with London 2012 can be created by the use of any words, images or marks which have an association with the Olympics, or, more likely a combination of these.

The legislation indicates that use of fairly generic wording may, subject to the overall context, amount to an association with the Games in respect of which LOCOG’s consent would be required. Therefore, the use of words such as “Games”, “Two Thousand and Twelve”, “London”, “2012”, “summer”, “gold” and “medals” may fall foul of the rules.

Furthermore, the use of the Olympics’ logos and symbols are protected marks that are expressly reserved for official sponsors. This includes the Olympic rings, London 2012 emblems and even the bespoke font that is associated with the Games.

More generally, the use of athletic images, Olympics colours and representations of iconic images which evoke the spirit of the Games may contribute to a finding of an unlawful association with the 2012 Games.

Marketing teams therefore need to urgently and carefully review their summer campaigns in order to ensure that they comply with the legislation. LOCOG recommends that businesses in doubt seek independent legal advice.

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Lawcast 202: Gary Slapper on the fabric of law in society and weird cases

Today I am talking with Professor Gary Slapper, Director of NYU.  We have a wide ranging discussion on the fabric of law in society, the College of Law sale, the proposed new ‘practice oriented’ degrees and their value, if any, and consider the quality of judges.  Gary also introduces a few unusual cases towards the end.

Listen to the podcast

With the new Firefox – which appears to download the whole file before revealing the console – the podcast may take 30+ seconds to load.  in Chrome the player loads immediately.


And…thank you to Cassons For Counsel David Phillips & Partners Solicitors , Contact Law UK Solicitors for sponsoring the podcasts and the free student materials on Insite Law.

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Justice for Sufferers of Asbestos Related Diseases

BY Rory McMullan,Clear Law Solicitors
At the end of March a landmark case heard before the Supreme Court ensured that mesothelioma sufferers and victims of other asbestos related illnesses could claim damages from the insurers of the employers that exposed them to asbestos. For sufferers of mesothelioma and asbestosis claiming damages has been fraught with difficulty in the past. The usual rule in negligence cases, that the Claimant must establish on the balance of probabilities that the Defendant’s negligence caused his or her injury or disease, traditionally caused problems for the sufferers of these diseases as it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the illness. Especially as in most cases many years have passed since the asbestos exposure by the time the illness is diagnosed. However, in 2006 the House of Lords held that an exception of the rule be made for mesothelioma sufferers in that they only have to prove that the exposure to asbestos contributed the risk that they would suffer mesothelioma to hold their employer liable.
However, in practice many suffers still struggled to obtain compensation for these illnesses. This is because many of the companies that are liable for asbestos exposure have since ceased trading. Whilst all companies are obliged to have in place insurance to protect against such liabilities the insurers were routinely refusing to pay out Claimants as they interpreted their liability as only extending to conditions that became apparent during the insurance policy term. In practice, if this was the correct interpretation it would result in many Claimants being unable to claim compensation for their condition despite their being a negligent exposure to asbestos.
The Claimant’s in the recent cases decided by the Supreme Court had been fighting for the better part of a decade for justice on this issue. Ruth Durham, the daughter of one of the Claimants, the late Leslie Screach, had commenced the claim on her father’s behalf against the insurers of the company that exposed him to asbestos in the 1960s. Mr Screach worked as a painter/sprayer in London and was diagnosed with mesothelioma in April 2003 and died of the disease in November 2003. Mr Screach knew that he was unlikely to live to see his case won but believed that it would be a worthwhile endeavour if it would assist people in future. Mr Screach’s employer’s insurers failed to pay compensation and proceedings were issued in 2006.
Mr Screach and the other Claimants were ultimately successful in their claims. The insurers appealed the issue with the Supreme Court who decided that when it comes to employer’s liability policies the negligent exposure of an employee to asbestos during the policy period had a sufficient causal link with the subsequently arising mesothelioma to trigger the insurer’s obligation to indemnify the employer.
I am extremely pleased at this decision as otherwise many sufferers of asbestos related diseases and their families would be effectively barred from claiming compensation for these very serious diseases. Miss Durham has written a concise and moving account of her experience in the Guardian which can be found here:

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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


With thanks to the following for sponsoring the free materials for students on Insite Law magazine: Inksters Solicitors, CellmarkBPP University College, David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Wildy & Sons, Camps Solicitors accident claims

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Today I am talking to David Allen Green, solicitor, legal correspondent at The New Statesman and author of The Jack of Kent blog about libel reform following the announcement of a Defamation Bill in the Queens Speech after a first reading in the House of Commons.  We shall also take a look at progress so far in the Leveson Inquiry.

Listen to the podcast

[If you are using Firefox – please be patient. It may take 30+ seconds to load. Firefox seems to have changed and now appears to download before the console appears.  Looking at embedded mp3 players for future – sorry!]

Important note:

Please look at David Allen Green’s excellent Libel Reform page on his blog which summarises all the developments in libel reform and provides links to all the relevant materials



Useful article: Comment: How will the Defamation Bill protect free speech? By Rachit Buch UK Human Rights Blog

#Without Prejudice Podcast with Carl Gardner: Yesterday I did a Without Prejudice ‘Special’ covering a range of fascinating legal topics which you may find enjoyable to listen to.  Listen here

See also Nick Cohen’s excellent book:

Nick Cohen’s excellent book You can’t read this book formed the basis for our discussion in #WithoutPrejudice 22 on Free Speech and I have no hesitation in encouraging you to read it.  It is available on Amazon – a fascinating discussion for lawyers and others interested in free speech.


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.

In association with The Lawyer

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