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Archive for June, 2012

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In a week where Chancellor Osbore has performed yet another U-turn (Government tally: 40+ and counting so far),  we wake to news of yet more greed and fraud from the bankers – this time, fiddling LIBOR…

On the matter of Osbore’s U-turns – I watched the Paxman interview with treasury minister Chloe Smith MP who was ripped apart for the edification on the Newsnight watching horde the other evening – Guardian: Jeremy Paxman interviews Chloe Smith: the full transcript | The Car crash interview with Paxo. However, Chancellor Osbore comes out of this debacle with his reputation as a ‘coward’ intact… so some good news for CCHQ.

As to the banker LIBOR fiddling: It would seem that the Barclays ‘Big Society’ initiative to provide work experience for disadvantaged looters hasn’t gone too well.

Curiously – while imprisonment faced the young looters and rioters of last summer – Barclays (and other banks soon to follow) face only a fine.  in the US, Barclays is believed to have secured immunity from criminal prosecution – paying only a hefty fine of £220 to the US authorities and £50 million (ish) to the FSA who seem to regard the matter as a purely ‘civil action’.  Ironically, the fine will be used to reduce the fees for other banks – other than other British banks yet to be caught out in the LIBOR fraud.

But all in the world is good – our prime minister has said, with his usual acuity and precision..or, some might say, his usual vacuity and imprecision.”I think the whole management team have got some serious questions to answer. Let them answer those questions first.”  (BBC)

City Unslicker writes: How did Barclays make it through that dark days of 2009?

By whistle-blowing Barclays are probably covered against future investigations and the other Banks will soon get their own place in the limelight of shame. It’s a sad story though and shows that even the heart of the markets cannot be trusted, a sad day for financial capitalism and the reputation of London – but a better day hopefully as it lead to positive changes at the Banks (or their regulators keeping a better watch).

Perhaps the CPS, when they have finished wasting court time with the prosecution of Paul Chambers in the #TwitterJokeTrial case, will be able to turn their minds to the possibility that bankers may have committed criminal offences?  If no suitable criminal offences can be found in the HUGE database of UK wide crime laws – perhaps Parliament could address attention to remedying this for the future?

Anyway.. there we are: A further ‘dark’ thought occurred to me – which I tweeted…“If I rent a Barclays *Boris bicycle*.. can I be sure that someone at Barclays hasn’t fiddled with the settings or gearing?”

The Twitter Joke Trial has been in the news again with the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, presiding at a hearing yesterday.  I did a podcast on the issue with Paul Chambers’ solicitor David Allen Green on the eve before the hearing: #WithoutPrejudice Special: #Twitterjoketrial with David Allen Green –  and Carl Gardner did an interview with David Allen Green and counsel John Copper QC after the hearing: “Twitter joke” appeal: interview with John Cooper QC and David Allen Green

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Recent Lawcasts…

Lawcast 210: Barbara Hamilton Bruce on CILEX and the changing legal world…

Today I am talking to Barbara Hamilton-Bruce who describes herself as “Mother, wife, friend, worker bee, FILEX, social drinker and occasional disco dancer” on twitter where she tweets enthusiastically as @bhamiltonbruce

Barbara also has a blog – The Red Files – and one of her recent posts caught my attention and amused me: Law Tourism

Listen to the podcast

Twitter Joke Trial

#WithoutPrejudice Special: #Twitterjoketrial with David Allen Green

Lawcast 209:  Francis FitzGibbon QC on the Assange asylum bid

Julian Assange walked into the  Ecuador Embassy in London on Tuesday evening to claim political asylum.  The President of Ecuador is shortly to make a statement on Assange’s application.  Today I am talking to Francis FitzGibbon QC about the law relating to asylum and the legal consequences of Assange’s extraordinary decision to seek asylum – a decision which surprised several of his supporters who put up the bail money and which they are possibly in danger of forfeiting.

Listen to the podcast

Read – Francis FitzGibbon QC article: Julian the Asylum Seeker

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Legal education news sponsored by BPP Law School

Beautician turned barrister GEORGINA BLACKWELL awarded a First in law at BPP

 Georgina Blackwell, the former beautician who made national headlines in 2009 when she won a High Court case with Bellway Homes has achieved a first class honours, the highest level of degree that can be awarded, from privately owned BPP University College. Georgina, aged 26, from Colchester, Essex who completed the LLB Law (Hons) in 2 years at BPP’s London Waterloo centre, is on her way to becoming a barrister following her examination results published this week. Peter Crisp, Dean of BPP Law School wrote to Georgina in November 2009, offering her a scholarship, having read about her court case, where she defeated the property developer in a dispute over access to her family’s garden, despite having had no legal training.

And Legal Cheek hones in on a current problem issue for legal education…

Restricting The BPTC To Students Who’ve Already Bagged a Pupillage Wouldn’t Breach Competition Law…

The plight of thousands of aspiring barristers who invest large sums of money to undertake the BPTC, but are increasingly unlikely to secure pupillage, has encouraged a lively debate in and around the profession (see, for instance, contributions from The Law Horse, Alex Aldridge and BPP Law School CEO Peter Crisp).

In this debate competition law looms like a spectre; often being referred to but rarely being discussed.

Worth a read…read more…

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New books from Oxford University Press

Highlights

New Edition
International Co-operation in Civil and Criminal Matters
Third Edition
David McClean

Charting the Divide Between Common and Civil Law
Thomas Lundmark

From Juvenile Delinquency to Adult Crime
Criminal Careers, Justice Policy and Prevention
Edited by Rolf Loeber and David P. FarringtonPaperback | 416 pages

From Single Market to Economic Union
Essays in Memory of John A. Usher
Edited by Niamh Nic Shuibhne and Laurence W. Gormley

Infrastructure
The Social Value of Shared Resources
Brett M. Frischmann

Negotiating Spaces
Legal Domains, Gender Concerns, and Community Constructs
Edited by Flavia Agnes, Edited by Shoba Venkatesh Ghosh, and Edited by Majlis

New Edition
The Future of Human Rights
Third Edition
Upendra Baxi

Creation without Restraint
Promoting Liberty and Rivalry in Innovation
Christina Bohannan and Herbert Hovenkamp

New Edition
Covert Investigation
Third Edition
Clive Harfield and Karen Harfield

Part II Law Review Weekly – later today or first thing Friday morning…

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Lawcast 210: Barbara Hamilton Bruce on CILEX and the changing legal world…

Today I am talking to Barbara Hamilton-Bruce who describes herself as “Mother, wife, friend, worker bee, FILEX, social drinker and occasional disco dancer” on twitter where she tweets enthusiastically as @bhamiltonbruce

Barbara also has a blog – The Red Files – and one of her recent posts caught my attention and amused me: Law Tourism

Listen to the podcast

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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, BPP Law School and Cellmark for sponsoring the  the free student materials on Insite Law – appreciated.

In association with The Lawyer

With thanks to the Law Society for sponsoring the  Law Review Weekl and my Lawcasts

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Welcome to this Without Prejudice Special on the Twitter Joke Trial with solicitor David Allen Green

The background to the Twitter Joke Trial is set out admirably by David Allen Green in a recent article in The New Statesman and here for some useful links to other coverage and legal analysis.

Also well worth reading from Heresy Corner : The Turing Joke Test

The appeal tomorrow, by way of Case Stated,  will be on points of law only.  Paul has appealed already to the Crown Court, which upheld his conviction.  A previous hearing at the High Court was inconclusive.  Tomorrow will be Paul’s seventh day in court on this case, which has lasted two-and-a-half years.

Listen to the podcast

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From time to time I allow my brother, Professor R.D. Charon, to express his more strident views on legal academe by inviting him to do a guest post. Well to the right of Mr Genghis Khan and embittered by an almost invisible career in the back rooms of a university – the worthy professor has advice in plenty for the aspirant law student.  I accept no liability whatsoever for any injury to mind or body (or at all) which may be sustained by the reader who is minded to take Professor Charon’s advice.  Caveat emptor… as we say down at The Old Duck and Dog.

The Vicissitude of a career in Law

BY Professor R.D. Charon LLB (Cantab), BCL, Ph.d,  FRSA
Emeritus Professor of Jurisprudence, University of The Rive Gauche, London Faculty, London

Author: “Legal Nihilism: Taking Rights Seriously, seriously”, Maninahat Press, 2009

I can do no better than reprise my annual address to the new intake of vestal virgins who present themselves at my university each October, their burden of wealth lightened by the accounts department, eager to begin their ‘journey of discovery’ in the Law.

Gentlemen and Ladies, Good morning.

Professor RD Charon plays the opening song   from Cabaret to the audience

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome!
Fremde, etranger, stranger.
Gluklich zu sehen, je suis enchante,
Happy to see you, bleibe, reste, stay.

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome
Im Cabaret, au Cabaret, to Cabaret

Meine Damen und Herren, Mesdames et Messieurs,
Ladies and Gentlemen! Guden Abend, bon soir,
We geht’s? Comment ca va? Do you feel good?
I bet you do!
Ich bin euer Confrecier; je suis votre compere…
I am your host!

Well.. there we are… you few, you happy few, you band of brothers who, despite the endeavours of Mr Michael Gove, a political Colossus who strides the empire of his own vanity, have arrived at our university to begin your studies in the Laws of England & Wales with a soupçon of European law woven pervasively through the syllabus to equip you to deal with Johnny Foreigner’s issues across The Channel, should you have the misfortune to be involved in same.

A few words to encourage you. Approximately two percent of you gathered here today will defeat the examiners – and make no mistake, at this university, we are out to get you – you will secure First Class Honours.  Given the reputation of our university, such an award, maxima cum laude, will provide a most satisfactory start to your career. Fifteen per cent of you will secure honours at Upper Second, giving you a sporting chance with the leading firms and chambers, and 40 per cent will have to do what you can in the legal world with a Lower Second.  For the gentlemen and gentleladies among you who regard your lives as a crime in progress, as Hunter S. Thompson would say, and secure a Third – this is a Certificate of Incompetence and it may be best that you leave your alma mater and head off , post haste, to the Police Community Support Officer’s recruitment centre – the address to which is helpfully provided by us in your ‘Welcome Pack’.  The Law will not be for you.

The exigencies of modern life, with universities cast into the cauldron of commerce by Two Brains Willett’s and left to fund for themselves, have forced us against the very fabric of our collective wills, to levy a fee for your education well north of the £9000 per annum charged by lesser institutions.  On the upside – you will not be required to sit through a battery hen two year ‘new style’ law degree favoured by some parvenu institutions where black letter law is regarded as an inconvenience and the syllabus is brimming with the practice skills of stapling, creating PDFs, bundling et al and a fair bit of financial mumbo-jumbery cobbled together from the vaults of a US inspired MBA program (sic). Nor will you be taught by sundry gurus, prognosticators and modern day legal profession Messiahs. You will be taught by distinguished men and women who have devoted their lives to the study of law in their field and who, through benefit of reflection, are able to shape the laws of our country by sharing their opinions through learned journals.  Indeed, my own magnum opus, “Legal Nihilism: Taking Rights Seriously, seriously”, Maninahat Press, 2009 was, I am advised, quoted with approval by a High Court judge only yesterday in a complex matter.

As to your future.  From this university a career at the commerical bar or a leading City law firm awaits those who reach the top of the mountain first.  You will be able to writhe with pleasure in the cess pit of mammon for about thirty years before the inevitable decline at the age of 50 and you are de-equitised by your partners at the firm of your choosing or, in the alternative, the senior clerk of your Chambers asks if he may have a ‘quiet word’ and hands you a copy of the latest Saga holiday brochure.

Gentlemen and ladies – the future is bright… the future is in your hands.  Tomorrow belongs to you.  I wish you well.

Professor Charon nods to the students and plays Tomorrow Belongs To Me from Cabaret to inspire the students.

Podcast version – with music

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Lawcast 209:  Francis FitzGibbon QC on the Assange asylum bid

Julian Assange walked into the  Ecuador Embassy in London on Tuesday evening to claim political asylum.  The President of Ecuador is shortly to make a statement on Assange’s application.  Today I am talking to Francis FitzGibbon QC about the law relating to asylum and the legal consequences of Assange’s extraordinary decision to seek asylum – a decision which surprised several of his supporters who put up the bail money and which they are possibly in danger of forfeiting.

Listen to the podcast

Read – Francis FitzGibbon QC article: Julian the Asylum Seeker

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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, BPP Law School and Cellmark for sponsoring the  the free student materials on Insite Law – appreciated.

In association with The Lawyer

With thanks to the Law Society for sponsoring the  Law Review Weekl and my Lawcasts

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It is difficult to know where to start this week.  The law just keeps giving. 
Tax law seems to be in the news with the Times revelations about comedian Jimmy Carr who manages to salt away, apparently, £3 million yearly for his ‘produce’. Apparently Carr is having the last laugh having reduced his tax exposure to 1% with the K2 scheme. Tax evasion is illegal.  Tax avoidance is not.

There appears, however, to be some form of ‘aggressive tax avoidance’ which chancellor Osborne and prime minister Cameron regard as ‘morally repugnant’.  It now seems that Mr Gary Barlow, recently elevated to OBE, may be a participant in – a  perfectly legal tax avoidance tactic – as well,  though with a different consultancy who don’t name their schemes after mountains.

The answer seems to be relatively straightforward.  The government hold all the aces.  They have the power to draft tax laws clearly – to minimise or even stop tax avoidance schemes.  Of course, it cannot possibly be as simple as that or the government would have done it.  Or would they?

Blogger LoveandGarbage doesn’t mess about on this issue – a good read.  He analyses the matter with precision: Spartacus restored scene – starring David Cameron

Julian Assange, facing extradition to Sweden to answer questions about his sexual conduct, took refuge in the London embassy of Ecuador on Tuesday evening.
Apart from Ecuador, not noted for human rights or freedom of the press, is a a rather curious choice for the ‘champion of free speech’ – Assange may well fail in this latest tactic to avoid extradition to the USA via Sweden.  Francis Fitzgibbon QC analyses the legal issues in a very clear blog post –  Julian the Asylum Seeker – pointing out, that in any event, Sweden would not be able to extradite Assange to the USA without the consent of the British home secretary until any charges put are proved in court, at which time Sweden would not be permitted by the European Convention to order authorisation to the USA if there was any prospect of Assange facing the death penalty.

And… it is not often that we see cases of judges being subject to judicial review which are successful.
Nearly Legal, a leading housing law blog, comments on such a case: Judicial review of a closed minded appeal.

“This is by any measure an unusual case. It is a judicial review of the conduct of an appeal to a circuit judge in an unlawful eviction and harassment claim. What is more, it is a successful claim for judicial review (sorry to spoil the tension)…

Read more…

Tony Nicklinson wants to die.  Unfortunately, he is ‘locked-in’ and needs a compassionate third party to kill him.  Will the law go so far as to include ‘necessity’ as a defence to murder or somehow find a solution to this awful situation for Mr Nicklinson?  Given that Parliament is unlikely to sanction euthanasia – and even Lord Falconer, a keen supporter of assisted suicide, does not go so far as to accept Mr Nicklinson’s proposition, it is unlikely that the court will find in Mr Nicklinson’s favour. The legal argument has been put to the judges. We await their decision.

I wrote about the issue in broad terms – covering suicide, assisted suicide and Mr Nicklinson’s predicament earlier in the week: The right to sign our own ‘death sentence’. The right to die and to refuse medical treatment or intervention.

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Recent Lawcasts with members of the profession

Natasha Phillips of Researching Reform on topical family law issues
Natasha Phillips is a non-practising barrister and author of the Researching Reform blog – an excellent and  thoughtfully constructed resource for practitioners and others interested in the field of family law.  We look at gay marriage – problem families – no-fault divorce – forced marriages.

Listen to the podcast

Legal Cheek podcast: PODCAST: Be Yourself, Not Some ‘Made In Chelsea’ Clone

The quality of advocacy – BBC Law in Action

“As the lines blur between the work of solicitors and barristers , Joshua Rozenberg asks whether a cheaper service provides better value for money or is it leading to poor representation in court and ultimately miscarriages of justice? He discusses the issues with Baroness Deech of the Bar Standards Board, a solicitor advocate Sundeep Bhatia and Elisabeth Davies, Chair of the Consumer panel at the Legal Services Board. He also speaks to senior appeal court judge Lord Justice Moses and asks about the best way to assess quality and what dangers lie ahead if suffers.”

Listen

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The Law blogs…

The UK Human Rights blog from 1 Crown Office Row produces yet another thoughtful piece – this time from the pen of Adam Wagner.

There is a democratic deficit in the courts… here’s how to fill it

The current Government often complains about a “democratic deficit” in the courts. It seems that  ”unelected judges” are making important decisions on social policy without any kind of democratic mandate, particularly in controversial human rights cases.

I agree that there is a democratic deficit in the courts. But it isn’t about elections. It is about access.

Read more…

I agree with Adam Wagner’s viewpoint – but I would go a bit further and push the discussion to include wider access  to the ranks of the judiciary. Most of the judges come from the Bar.  That is a historical fact.  Increasingly, judges are being selected from the solicitors and legal executives sides of the profession.  In the recent round of judicial appointments – women fared better, but ethnic minorites not so well.

While a legal academic would not be qualified to sit at first instance or, possibly, on appeal to the Court of Appeal  – unless they were practising as well – there is a case to be made for eminent legal academics to be appointed to the UK Supreme Court where issues of law, rather than fact and evidence, dominate the discussion. Academic reflection and study of the law (and the skills which such deep study brings) seems to me to be a most useful qualification to have when considering the difficult issues faced by the UKSC.  I certainly believe that our judiciary should reflect better the changing mores of our times and the constituent peoples of our nation.  It will take time – but progress does seem to be rather slow.  I can see no reason, in the changing legal landscape with solicitor-advocates taking on more court work – for the bench to be an exclusive sinecure for or preserve of the barrister.

Inner Temple Library wins award for ‘Current Awareness’

I was delighted to see that Inner Temple Library’s hard work over the past years with their excellent Current Awareness service has been recognised with BIALL’s Wallace Breem Award 2012.

Obiter J provides an insightful look into: Justice and Security Bill ~ second reading in Lords

Obiter J notes

Liberty believes that the proposals are dangerous and unnecessary. They will not only overturn centuries of common law fair trial protections for those seeking to challenge the actions of the State, but also undermine the vital constitutional principle that no one is above the law, including the Government.

“LIBERTY” – Campaign “For their eyes only” and see their briefing paper on the bill. 

So, what do others have to say?

Read more…

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The Guardian

Offering Julian Assange asylum in Ecuador could be an empty gesture

Julian Assange asylum: questions and answers

Secret court plans ‘address genuine problem in disproportionate way’

‘As hard as it gets’: the case of anorexic E and the right to die
Daniel Sokol: The judge in this challenging case relied on intuition. In such a dilemma, can law or ethics ever yield a single right answer

Officer accused of Ian Tomlinson killing appears in court

Legal Week: Ex-Dewey partners offered settlement deal to avoid future liability

The Lawyer: Mishcon unveils turbo-charged results as turnover leaps 20 per cent

The Lawyer: SJ Berwin turnover flatlines after year of “consolidation”

The Lawyer: Court of Appeal in key corporate veil ruling

Sponsored by the Law Society

Professional Update Thursday 14 June 2012
This week’s issue features equal civil marriage, new CML instructions, member offers, and more.

Excellence Awards are now open for nominations

Ambush marketing: join the debate

Sponsored by CILEx

VQ Day 2012
CILEx is supporting VQ Day, which is being held today, 20 June 2012.

Bar Council news

Bar Council Responds to Consultation on Separate Legal Jurisdiction for Wales

“The Bar Council has responded to the Welsh Government’s consultation on whether there should be a separate legal jurisdiction for Wales. The Bar Council does not express a view on this matter, which is essentially a political question, but it seeks to identify a number of practical issues relevant to arguments for and against the proposition.

It argues that, even if a decision was taken to create a separate legal jurisdiction for Wales, it is in the public as well as the UK national interest that there is free movement of legal professionals within the UK by assisting the administration of justice. It also argues that there would be no need to create any separate institutions for the legal professions in Wales.”

Please click here to read the Bar Council’s full response.

BAILII: Recent Decisions

Recent case summaries from ICLR

XX (Ethiopia) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (JUSTICE intervening) – WLR Daily
IMMIGRATION — Deportation — Conducive to public good

Hutton and others v Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority [2012] EWCA Civ 806; [2012] WLR (D) 176
CRIME — Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority — Application for compensation — Application made outside prescribed time period

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A look at the surreal and possibly bizarre side of the legal world…

The Bar’s tricks have been revealed... hat tip to @legalaware on twitter.

Fraud Prevention Services have provided a nifty guide for cons and others likely to end up in a court of law: Tricks barristers often use and how to overcome them

The Yes/No You Lie Trick The Keep Talking Trick – Play Around the Borders Trick – Irrelevant Technical Point TrickProvoking Anger Trick – Questions with Assumptions Trick

All rather tricky?  Oui?

Legal Cheek weighs into the sea of ignorance with: Getting a Pupillage Contract At Slaughter & CILEX: Report Reveals That Young People Are Ill-Informed About Careers

“Young people are overconfident slackers who don’t have a clue about the real world, new research has revealed….Want to find out if your knowledge about legal careers beats your average moron teen? Take the Legal Cheek test.

RollonFriday.com has a bonza of a post for you…

Defendant launches into potty-mouthed courtroom tirade

The Supreme Court of Queensland was subjected to an expletive filled rant from a disgruntled defendant last week, who used the word “f*ck” 77 times during a hearing.

The defendant did little to endear himself to the judge during the short hearing. Effing and blinding from the outset, he opened by telling the judge: “look – listen here, mate, you don’t know what you’re f*cking  talking about“. He added that the judge was a “lard arse“, telling him to “stick your trial up your f*cking arse” and, enigmatically, complaining that the judge was “talking but not in the lingo language“. And when the judge made an order he responded, with rapier wit, “Order me a f*ckin’ pizza while you’re at it“. Boom.

And finally…

Legal education news sponsored by BPP Law School

Legal Week Student Q&A in association with BPP Law School. In this Q&A, Legal Week editor-in-chief John Malpas discusses the hot topics in legal education with Peter Crisp, dean of BPP Law School. Crisp gives his take on the pressure to improve diversity in the legal profession, the 2020 Review of legal education and how candidates can stand out from the crowd when applying for a coveted training contract.

You need to register to watch the webcast

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