Showing posts from April, 2009

Adjudicating in 140 characters or less

From the Solicitors’ Journal 27/04/09:A magistrate accused by a colleague of inappropriate “tweeting” – posting texts on networking website Twitter – has resigned.Professor Steve Molyneaux, aged 54, posted updates from Telford magistrates court under the user name “ProfOntheProwl”.According to the Mail on Sunday one of the posts read: “Just about to hear application from three robbers from Manchester as to whether to remand or not.”Another read: “Called into court today to deal with those arrested last night and held in custody. I guess they will be mostly drunks but you never know.”Mr Molyneaux, who had been a magistrate for 16 years, said everything he reported on Twitter had been said in open court, and denied posting while a hearing was in session.He told the BBC that the judicial system needed to embrace technology to improve transparency and let the people see that justice had been done.He announced his resignation on Twitter.I’m all for the judicial system embracing technology…

The sign of a hard-working law student

Checked my LLM folder on my computer today, you know, just for the hell of it.Was surprised to see it had reached the mammoth size of 283MB and had 862 files with 66 folders. Wow. And I’ve still revision work and the full fury of my dissertation to be thrown at it yet.The fact the folder houses 862 files doesn’t really surprise me. The size is certainly an eye-opener and is due in large part to all of the journal articles I’ve used for assignments that I’ve downloaded in PDF format. The downside of open standards I guess!While on this topic, I thought I might share my back-up and syncing strategy with the blawgosphere. Law students, in my experience, tend to be lousy at backing-up, but with the wide range of free automated backup and syncing tools available today, there really isn’t an excuse any longer.My precious LLM folder is backed up (and synced) to a USB key using Microsoft Synctoy 2.0. Creating a folder pairing between the folder on my PC and the USB key means that syncing is j…

Avoiding Allegations of Discrimination: What NOT to say

From BBC News 14/04/09:A cabin crew boss was forced to employ only young, slim, single women to crew private aircraft, a tribunal has heard.Alexandria Proud, from London, has claimed unfair constructive dismissal by charter aircraft firm Gama Aviation. Miss Proud said she was verbally abused by aircraft owner Alireza Ittehedeh and not supported by her employer.Gama Aviation supplies pilots and flight attendants for about 30 privately-owned aircraft. Miss Proud said she was forced to discriminate when recruiting cabin staff on grounds of sex, marital status and age, and criticised for not getting enough suitable candidates. "The successful candidate would be female, physically attractive, aged 18 to 30, single and no larger than a size 12," said Miss Proud. "I was also specifically informed that if there was a male flight attendant it would be thought that he was gay and the owner would not tolerate such an individual on the aircraft." Miss Proud issued a formal gri…

Office Jargon and Cliché Heaven

Courtesy of The Mail 16/06/08::Some of these office-based clichés are worse than others. Often times, it’s not the jargon that people object to but rather the people uttering it. I’m sure we can all relate to a moronic middle manager chirping out the office clichés like they’re going out of fashion. Jargon is fine when used in context (which includes it being readily understood by the audience) and is a more efficient means of expressing an idea. More often than not, gripes about office jargon stem from users muttering these phrases to obfuscate real meaning – usually because they haven’t got an answer, don’t understand the situation fully themselves or because saying such phrases play to their ego.It doesn’t change things though: a moron is moron whether he engages in blue-sky thinking or not.Some of my favourites:“Going forward” – What?!? What’s wrong with that? It’s clear, easily understood and unambiguous. I recall using it in a recent paper as an alternative to ‘in the future’. S…

Solicitor-Advocates Blasted Over Alleged Incompetence

From the Law Society Gazette 23.04.09:An extraordinary public row has erupted over the role of solicitor-advocates after a Crown Court judge told a court that he came close to discharging a jury because of concerns that a solicitor lacked the competence to represent his client properly.Speaking in open court at the end of a two-week criminal trial, Judge Gledhill QC (pictured) criticised the performance of three of the four solicitor higher court advocates in the caseOne solicitor ‘addressed the jury directly’ on two occasions in cross examination, another ‘clearly had no idea what the rules of re-examination were’ and the jury was ‘misled about one of the defendants’ bad ­character’.‘The list goes on and on,’ he said.At one stage, Gledhill said, he was so concerned about the lack of experience and competence of one of the solicitors that he felt he might have to conclude the defendant was ‘not properly represented’ and discharge the jury. ‘Fortunately that stage was not reached,’ he …

UK Microsoft Ads Leave Apple Without An Answer

The new Microsoft ads which have finally responded Apple’s more direct and hard-hitting approach towards Redmond themselves have been (justifiably) applauded far and wide.  After the lukewarm reception which the Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld ads received, Microsoft’s second wave of ‘I’m a PC’ ads thankfully fared rather better.  Then, in recent weeks Microsoft has aired a series of ads showing Lauren and Giampaolo with a certain budget shopping around for laptop PCs.  The key points highlighted in the ads are the vast range of choice for hardware running Windows and, perhaps more crucially, the fact the shoppers quickly dismiss Apple as a viable option because of the extortionate prices they charge for their hardware (which the bevy of Mac fanboys out there remain perpetually blind to of course). And now with the release of a series of UK ads (such as Danni above) Microsoft have really upped the ante.  Specifically designed to showcase the simplicity of MS software, these ‘charming’ a…

Summer Term Starts

I knew this day would come but that hasn’t made its arrival any easier to accept. Yes, today marks the start of the summer term and all of the revision/exam fun that goes with it. Before the games can begin properly, though, I’ve got to wrap up the coursework-based modules.I’m not quite up to where I’d wanted to be as have my final corporate governance paper to write before I can switch properly into exam mode. (Before the start of the Easter break I had stated I wanted ALL papers written by the end.  Hmmmph: so much for that). Still, I started the research for the paper last week while I was down in Cornwall so aim to have it finished by the end of this week (subject to change and all that).Unfortunately I have to head into the city for the next 3 days straight – which is a bit of a hassle. Still, I don’t want to miss a single session at this stage in case any precious exam-hints are given out. More so this year than any other, even before Easter, it felt as though things were wrappe…

Boys will be boys

Orchard v Lee [2009] EWCA Civ 295From the Solicitors Journal 07/04/09:The Court of Appeal has ruled that a 13 year-old boy who ran into a dinner lady and seriously injured her during a game of tag in a school courtyard was not liable for negligence.“13 year-old boys will be 13 year-old boys who will play tag,” Lord Justice Waller said. “They will run backwards and they will taunt each other. If that is what they are doing and they are not breaking any rules they should not be held liable in negligence.“Parents and schools are there to control children and it would be a retrograde step to visit liability on a 13 year-old for simply playing a game in the area where he was allowed to do so.”However unfortunate this ‘injured dinnerlady incident’ might be, working with kids is sometimes like this. Thankfully, commonsense prevailed and the law has made no attempt to curtail children playing what must one of the oldest games ever devised. Of course children have a duty not to do utterly ridi…

My Legal Space: On the road/Easter edition

As regular readers of Law Actually will know, I’ve travelled down to my home in Cornwall for a few days, visiting my poor neglected parents and indulging in a bit of R and R etc.  I’ve made a point of not working too much (though did start my research for my final Corporate Governance assignment earlier today). I thought it was high time I provided another '’My Legal Space’ photo so here’s an ‘on the road’ edition.I’ve deliberately travelled light (in terms of my legal-gear) bringing just a laptop with me and no papers/books etc.  As you can see, I’ve been getting my sustenance from Coca Cola and a tube of mini eggs this afternoon.  Happy days!Fun Fact: my favourite mini eggs are the yellow ones; my GF claims there’s no difference between the colours though!

Think Before You Post… Will the message ever be heeded?

In a paper I wrote recently concerning the future of social networking, I argued that the single most effective solution for its safe use going forwards was the need for education to be heightened. This educative solution focussed on many things, from privacy related issues to piercing the virtual veil – a concept that I coined late last year. My recommendations were quite far-reaching and centred on a broad, multi-pronged approach to raising education and knowledge of the full-blown implications of social networking. On this basis, I guess, sending out reminders to job-seekers that their online actions can have real world implications – particularly for their job prospects – can only be a good thing.From an email that dropped into my Inbox overnight from networking is a relative newcomer in the world of online recruitment and research is still being carried out into its effects.However, it has already had a massive impact on millions of people and it would be …

Social Networking User? Yes?...Then you're a bad person!

Just as my feelings towards social networking are beginning to mellow slightly, I'm told that it's making me a 'bad person'.  Great.From the Metro 14.04.09:Using Facebook or Twitter may make you a bad person because it ruins your moral compass, it has been claimed. Fast-paced modern media, such as Facebook updates and news feeds on Twitter, do not give us time to reflect and could make us indifferent to human suffering, according to a group of researchers. Children could be particularly vulnerable because their brains are still developing, it was claimed. 'If things are happening too fast, you may not ever fully experience emotions about other people's psychological states and that would have implications for your morality,' said researcher Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, from the University of Southern California.


I’m heading back home to Cornwall for a few days tomorrow. The weather isn’t supposed to be great – that’s Cornwall for you – but it should be good nonetheless. I’ve not been back since early September so I guess this trip is overdue.I’d originally set myself the goal of completing my IT law paper before leaving. It’s virtually done now but I still need to edit about 300 words out and finish the referencing. Quite why this assignment has been akin to having several teeth pulled I don’t quite know but I’m certain it’s going to feel great when I’m the other side of it. :-)Anyhoo, I expect I’ll still be keeping my finger on the pulse of the blawgosphere while I’m gone – just a bit less frequently, that’s all. In any case, we seem to be going through a bit of a lull at the moment. It’s that time of year, I guess.

Bar Stool Driver Charged with Drink Driving

Only just stumbled across this gem.  From Sky News 02.04.09:A man in Ohio has been charged with drink driving after he crashed a motorised bar stool at 20mph.Kile Wygle, 28, adapted a regular bar stool and fitted it with a steering wheel, tyres and a small engine.He managed to escape the crash with only a minor injury to his head but immediately had his licence suspended by police.While he was being treated by paramedics, Wygle told a police officer he had consumed "a lot" of beers before he drove the stool.However, he later changed his story saying he only consumed alcohol after the crash."I drank quite a bit after I wrecked because my head hurt so bad," he told a local TV station."I went in and drank a half a bottle of whiskey."As you do.So it seems that racing motorised bar stools is considered a sport in some parts of the US. I guess everyone needs a hobby.

When speed humps can kill

In browsing a semi-humorous article entitled ‘The 5 Most Popular Safety Laws (That Don't Work)’ that I found via Digg, I stumbled across a link relating to speed humps and how they impede response times for emergency vehicles.Pretty obvious, you might think. But it was the extent of the problem which interested me and the irony behind the perception of their life-saving value – at least in some parts of the world.From Bromley Borough Roads Action Group:The Chairman of the London Ambulance Service, Sigurd Reinton, recently claimed that speed humps are killing hundreds of Londoners by delaying 999 crews. He said “For every life saved through traffic calming, more are lost because of ambulance delays.”  There are about 8,000 heart attack victims in London every year, and London has a particularly poor survival rate. One reason is no doubt because even a small delay increases the death rate enormously. For example 90% of victims survive if treated within 2 minutes, but it falls to 10…

New Blog Theme: Law Actually 2.0

Yes, it’s official: Law Actually 2.0 has arrived.  My previous blog design had been in place since May 2007 and it was coming to the end of its planned two year service.  I felt it served Law Actually well and was obviously based heavily on the visual style adopted by the film, Love Actually, to which this blog duly owes its name.  I know – I’m not particularly proud of it!  Alas the style was getting a little long in the tooth and I’ve wanted a 2nd sidebar to accommodate the growing content for a while now.So, yeah, here it is.  This style wasn’t my first choice.  I had initially opted for something a bit more laid-back and, dare I use the word, grungy!!  You can check that style out over at my other (and now defunct) blog, F1 Central.  It’s a kind of ‘what might have been’.  Feedback from my ‘focus group’ suggested it wasn’t ‘lawwy enough’ and perhaps was a touch too grungy.  I don’t know: I still kind of like it.  So, I duly went back to the drawing board and came up with another d…


Friendface - you'll feel so social! from Rimvydas V. on Vimeo. No doubt many of you will recognise this from the latest series of the IT crowd, but it’s such a good parody of social networks -and particularly Facebook – that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share it on Law Actually.In the explanatory video of what Friendface is all about, an analogy with contagious illnesses is drawn.  And I think that’s about right for a lot of social networks out there.Some of my favourite quotes:“Each Friendface page is like a petridish filled with Friendface germs.”“It’s basically a diseased face of friendship.”“Just sign up to Friendface by giving us all of your personal information.”“We own everything you put on friendface – it says so in the terms and agreements. But don’t worry about that, we won’t use it to do anything bad – we promise!”Later in the actual episode, Moss bemoans that his mother has signed up to Friendface, meaning he must endure yet another channel of communication wit…

My legal space/3rd IT law paper

Not so tidy, eh?  I came in for some stick for my last legal space photo, with allegations to the effect that I’d ‘staged’ it.  That wasn’t true – it was merely taken on one of my ‘neater’ days.  But anyway, here’s another photo just to demonstrate that I’m not always like that.This pretty much sums up my whole experience with this 3rd and final IT law paper.  I feel it really ‘speaks’ to the progress I’ve made and sense of direction I’m experiencing with my thesis.  Oh yes!I’m about to start the ‘writing process’, so, you know, lots of luck and motivation needed.Sigh.

Facebook Friend Saves Teenager’s Life

I know I rag on Facebook quite a bit, but this story is truly amazing.“A British teenager’s suicide note on Facebook sparked a transatlantic rescue mission which saved his life. The 16-year-old boy’s threat to kill himself, sent to a girl 3,600 miles away, in Maryland, America, was the starting point for an extraordinary race against time. When she read his private post at 11.30pm on Wednesday night his American friend told her parents, who called the local state police. The only details they were given were his name and the fact he went to school in Oxforshire [sic]. Within one hour the girl’s distress call was passed all the way across the across the Atlantic to Thames Valley Police via a White House Special Agent, the British Embassy in Washington DC and The Metropolitan Police in London. Armed with scant facts from his Facebook profile, Thames Valley Police Officers turned to other internet sites, including Google and online electoral roll search services to trace him. They manag…

More courtroom shenanigans

Gary Slapper’s most recent entry in his tireless exploration of those weird and wacky cases that are peppered throughout case law touches on a rather mischievous topic: bare faced cheek. From the Times 02/04/09:Faced with a tough legal challenge, a law academic should be able to strip away anything superficial and quickly get to the bottom of the matter. Megumi Ogawa, a lecturer in law, did that unconventionally when representing herself in an Australian trial recently. Unimpressed by the prosecution’s case against her, she lowered her trousers and bared her buttocks at the judge. For presenting her rebuttal in that way, she was given a predictably poor mark and jailed for four months for contempt by the Brisbane District Court. [D]uring the trial, she was forcibly removed from the court several times for sustained high-pitched screaming, making statements calculated to bring the justice system into disrepute and violent wrestling with security officers.(As opposed to gentle/peaceful …

Magistrate merely ‘resting his eyes’

From CPD Webinars 30.03.09:Magistrate, John Harrison, is being investigated after it was alleged that he fell asleep during a teenager's trial for a suspected assault.Mr Harrison was sitting with two colleagues at Lancaster Magistrates Court when the defendant's mother noticed that he had closed his eyes.She informed her son's solicitor who proceeded to make an official representation to the court.Mr Harrison denied having fallen sleep, but following discussions with both his colleagues and a court official decided to halt the case after a day and a half and schedule a retrial for next month.
Mr Harrison told his local newspaper he had merely been resting his eyes.
"I was not asleep, but I rested my eyes for five minutes or so," he said. "It was just a normal reaction in the middle of the afternoon.
"The court was warm - the heating was on and the sun was pouring in through the window.
"I was still listening to the de…

Google April Fools’ a flop? Ingenuity has left the building

I can’t be the only one thinking this.  Recent years have been so good on the Google April Fools’ front but this year’s offering falls disappointingly flat, courtesy of CADIE.  In 2007 we had the brilliant Google Flushdrive (which essentially involved flushing cables down a toilet for connectivity) and in 2008 we were treated to the ingenious Google Custom Time which ‘allowed’ you to back-date emails – primarily for mischief making.  Both ideas were great April Fools’ trickery.This year, however, Google have unveiled CADIE Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity for April 1st.  And it just seems like a massive damp squib to me.  It’s something about, um, oh go and read it for yourself.There’s a quirky blog deliberately designed to look amateurishly bad which features Cadie the panda – go figure.  It’s ‘something’ I guess…. if you like that kind of thing.  As if that were not enough, though, there’s a YouTube channel and some explanatory text.  Hmm.And that’s it?  Yeah,…