Wednesday, 23 April 2014

‘Holiday head’ and legal practice

Morning Alarm Clock HellFrom the London Evening Standard 22/04/14:

It starts with bewilderment. Then sadness sets in, followed by waves of fear. Sound familiar? I’m afraid you are suffering from a case of “holiday head”. After a gloriously long Easter weekend away from the office, returning can be quite a shock — even worse than the usual Monday misery.

Holiday head. Ah – that’s what it’s called then. Glad I’m not the only one.

A lawyer friend says: “All my holiday jollity and Zen ebb away as soon as I reach my desk.

What rot. A lawyer who professes to be full of jollity and Zen seems pretty unlikely to me. Zen! I ask you.

“There’s a general scary feeling of ‘What is this thing I do every day and how is it done?’”

That’s a normal feeling for a lot of lawyers in practice, I reckon. And yes, I speak from experience.

Another sufferer is so terrified of holiday head that she avoids taking time off altogether because it’s simpler than dealing with the big return. The break just isn’t worth that painful readjustment afterwards.

I’ve said that myself on several occasions, actually. Still, there comes a point when you’ve got to take a sensible pill; never taking annual leave isn’t really a viable solution.

These anxious workers are not alone. A recent study of 2,000 British employees found that 70 per cent need more than two weeks to recover from a post-holiday downer, with half the people saying they go through their photos endlessly to try to recapture some of that all-too-fleeting happiness.

Psychologist Emma Kenny recommends mentally going back to work the night before, in preparation. She says: “Think about what might come up and prioritise what is important. That helps you feel on the ball when you arrive and ready to work through your list. That will feel good because it gives a sense of achievement.”

No, I’ll feel stressed out and exhausted from having pitched myself into a series of panic attacks instead of getting a good night’s sleep. Keep your advice to yourself, please, Emma.

The article goes on to recommend good preparation to help shake off those ‘back to work blues’.

Then, when you have managed to wake up in time for the commute, dress for battle. [T]his is a day for a crisp white shirt to make you feel together and strong.

Really? Does wearing a white shirt make someone feel ‘together and strong’? What a load of baloney.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Easter eggs ‘destroyed’ by overzealous airport staff

From BBC News 16/04/14:

Children were left "devastated" after staff at Bristol Airport destroyed their Easter eggs in a security check.

I think ‘destroyed’ is a bit strong. But a broken egg, is a broken egg – however you, erm, slice it.

The youngsters were returning home to Italy after visiting their grandfather Tom Marsland in Cornwall when a security officer searched the bags of the children.

After an Easter egg hunt with their grandfather the children collected six Easter eggs which they planned to take home.

But during a search the eggs were pierced by the fingers and thumbs of a security officer.

Chocolate butter fingers!Broken Chocolate Egg

Bristol Airport has apologised and said a full internal investigation is due to take place.

They said replacement Easter eggs are also due to be sent to the children.

Good show.

Airport security staff aren’t particularly known for their delicate touch and sensitive nature. Still – at least the eggs weren’t left to the mercy of baggage handlers!  They’d have been smashed to smithereens by rough handling or eaten by the handlers during one of their countless work breaks had the eggs not have been packed as hand luggage.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Court stenographer apes Jack Torrance from The Shining

Well, in some respects.

All Work and No Play
From the New York Post 03/04/14:

An alcoholic Manhattan court stenographer went rogue, channeling his inner “Shining” during a high-profile criminal trial and repeatedly typing, “I hate my job, I hate my job” instead of the trial dialogue, sources told The Post.

Heeeres Johnnny!  Be right back

The bizarre antics by Daniel Kochanski, who has since been fired, wreaked havoc on some 30 Manhattan court cases, sources said, and now officials are scrambling to repair the damage.

One high-level source said his “gibberish” typing may have jeopardized hard-won convictions by giving criminals the chance to claim crucial evidence is missing.

A source familiar with the case said Kochanski’s transcripts of that trial were a total mess.

“It should have been questions and answers — instead it was gibberish,” the source said.

all-work-and-no-play-makes-jack-a-dull-boyAnd in a scene right out of 1980’s “The Shining,” where Jack Nicholson’s off-the-rails writer repeatedly types “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” a source said of Kochanski: “He hit random keys or wrote, ‘I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job,’ over and over.”

I can see why court reporting might do that to someone. 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

How to Protect Yourself from Money Laundering

Guest Post

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Graphic from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4f/Credit-cards.jpg

Purely by providing your bank account to facilitate money laundering, you’re acting illegally. Unfortunately, ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law, leading to potential jail time, unless your money laundering solicitor provides a credible defence against your apparent misdemeanours.

Be wary of any job offers that have come from nowhere, especially if they are based overseas – you will struggle to verify their legitimacy if they’re not based in this country. Always check that the company that you’re dealing with is legitimate and trustworthy. Never give away your bank details to an organisation that you don’t trust and know.

As soon as you start feeling suspicious about money laundering, contact your bank. If you’ve been given an opportunity to make ‘easy money,’ it’s likely to be too good to be true. Although each job position may be advertised differently, you will specifically have to hand over your bank account details to receive and move money.

Sometimes it can be initially challenging to spot a money laundering scheme. Always be wary about adverts that are full of poor English or contain obvious grammar and spelling mistakes. If you receive any emails which look like a scam, do not click on any of the links in the text and delete the correspondence.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Slippery slope for Bristol law students

Bristol Watrer SlideThe University of Bristol’s law school is housed in the Wills Memorial Building which is the large castle-like building at the top of the hill in the picture.  Put another way, it’s perfectly positioned for students to sprint out of lectures and slalom their way down a water slide once lectures are over for the day.

Why couldn’t studying law be more like that when I was a student, eh?  Eye rolling smile

When the slide is set up for a day (yes, that’s all!) in the summer, let’s hope the road is properly closed to traffic.  I don’t want to hear of law students studying tort having their studies bolstered by first hand experiences of negligence claims!  Lucky that the Bristol Royal Infirmary is just down the road.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Maternity Employment Rights

Guest Post

Maternity Employment RightsIt’s not uncommon for a new mother to take up to several months off work after childbirth. However, prior to even considering this leave, it’s important to know the law and your legal rights as a working mother.

Maternity leave rights
Maternity leave rights play an imperative part in employment law and whilst the basics of such leave may seem simple, the likes of redundancy and the nature of employment can make the entire situation a little more complex.

If you’re unsure of anything or feel you’re being treated unfairly, it’s wise to seek a solicitor’s opinion.

Statutory maternity leave
Eligible employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave. The first 26 weeks are classed as ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’ whilst the last 26 weeks are often regarded as ‘Additional Maternity Leave’.

Your eligibility may depend on a number of things, including how long you’ve worked for the specific company as well as previous work.

11 weeks before the expected due date of your baby is the earliest you can take your leave. Employees must take at least 2 weeks off from work after childbirth by law. This increases to 4 weeks for those who work in a factory environment.

Statutory maternity pay
Eligible employers can be paid for up to 39 weeks of leave. In the first six weeks, they will receive up to 90% of their average weekly earnings before tax. In the latter 33 weeks, this will equate to a sum of around £138.78.

Extra leave or pay
Those who work for a company that offers a maternity scheme may be entitled to extra leave or pay. The company in question must certify that their maternity leave policies are easy to understand and also, easily accessible to staff.

What to do if the baby is born early?
Leave begins the day after the birth; this rule applies even if the baby is born early. The employee must inform their employer of this exact date. You will then receive a written letter confirming the new date of leave.

Employment rights
During maternity leave, all of the employee’s employment rights are fully protected. These include holidays and returning to a job.

What you must do before maternity leave
By law, employees must have an employment contract in place in order to qualify for statutory maternity leave. They must also give the employer adequate notice.

It’s essential that they have worked in the company for at least 26 weeks up to the qualifying week (the 15th week before childbirth). Another factor to consider is earnings; those wishing to take paid maternity leave must earn a sum of £109 per week in an 8-week applicable period.

Proof of pregnancy
Prior to embarking on your leave, you must attain proof of your pregnancy. This will often consist of a doctor’s note or alternatively, a MATB1 certificate. Such proof is usually released 20 weeks prior to childbirth.

Without this proof, the employer isn’t required to pay statutory maternity pay.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Drunk woman nearly killed stone dead

(As distinct from being killed stone alive.)

Bus stop road accidentFrom BBC News 20/03/14:

A Londonderry woman, who was captured on camera being left in a bus lay-by by two police officers while incapacitated, has called for the officers to be sacked.

Bridget Mongan, 23, admits being drunk at the time, but said the officers should have left her on the pavement.

"My boyfriend was arrested and I got a bit upset," said Ms Mongan.

"I could have been killed stone dead.

Because being killed can result in you being left in some other condition, of course. Ahem.

"I don't remember how I ended up lying on the road. I don't remember a whole lot," she added.

That stands to reason, I guess.

Assuming the officers did in fact leave Mongan floundering around in a drunken stupor at a bus stop, I’m surprised they’d be willing to take the risk. As well as potentially committing an offence under the Irish equivalent of the Road Traffic Act by causing danger to other road users, it’s also very likely that the officers would be exposing themselves (and their employers) to civil liability through claims for negligence.

Handcuffing her to a lamppost while she ‘slept it off’ would have been a much safer bet.