Sunday, 29 July 2007

Wall to wall sunshine next week. Yes, seriously.

The Michael might have to look out those shorts and dust-off his sun lounger after all. Just when I’d given up all hope on the summer materialising to any noteworthy extent at all, the weather forecast is finally showing some relief from the rain. Can’t say that I feel particularly summery any more but I might well take the opportunity to soak up a little sun and brown my belly. When I get the chance that is – I’m working one hell of a lot of hours right now. Still, make hay while the sun……oopps, not the most fitting proverb to have used this summer.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Graduation Bear

The Michael has taken a short respite from blogging recently and I make no apologies for my absence – you know I wouldn’t mean it anyway. It seems most blawgers are in somewhat of a summer lull at the moment, so my infrequent postings of late will hopefully have passed unnoticed. Not least, of course, because next to nobody visits law actually. Just kidding.

Anyway, in recognition of completing my degree (and getting a first) my Mother kindly sent a ‘graduation bear’ all the way from the states. This bear, however, is like no other. Somewhat spookily, she recorded a message of congratulations which is activated by pressing his left paw. The first time I played the recording I found myself fearfully trembling before slowly inching backwards towards the door. Still, now I realise that was perhaps a tad OTT. I’ve grown to accept this bear and his eerie message in my Mother’s voice. Just not entirely comfortably, that’s all.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Speeder’s right to silence not infringed

I blogged about the case of O’Halloran and Francis v United Kingdom just over a week ago.

As you will no doubt recall, faithful reader, the Michael opined that their arguments would be given fairly short shrift. And so it was. The ECHR judges upheld the convictions for speeding offences with a 17-2 majority.

You might have thought the judges, impressed with the creativity of the applicant’s arguments, would have let them down gently. Oh no. The mincing of words and the softening of blows were not on the cards. Cases cited in favour of the applicant’s were distinguished from the instant case in almost rapid-fire succession.

The one concession to the appellants’ case, however, was a loose acknowledgement that the laws of member states should indeed operate without being self-incriminatory, nor should they infringe the basic right to silence. Err, yeah, thanks for that.

"On the one hand, it was self-evident that it was incompatible with the immunities to base a conviction solely or mainly on the accused's silence or on a refusal to answer questions or to give evidence himself. "On the other hand, the immunities could and should not prevent the accused's silence from being taken into account in situations which clearly called for an explanation."

With that out of the way, the judges, moved in for the kill. They categorically stated that Articles 2 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights had NOT been infringed by s172 Road Traffic Act 1988.

"Having regard to all the circumstances of the case, including the special nature of the regulatory regime at issue and the limited nature of the information sought by a notice under section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, the court considers that the essence of the applicants' right to remain silent and their privilege against self-incrimination has not been destroyed.”

The applicant’s case was destined to fail from the beginning. This was always going to come down to a policy decision by the ECHR and the appeal would have to have been dismissed. To have allowed it would have brought the entire system of policing speeding motorists in the UK crashing down. Further, while you may have a hard time persuading a convicted speeder that the system is reasonable and fit-for-purpose, try asking them to suggest an alternative means of policing the UK’s excessive speeders. And wait for the silence. They have got a right to it, after all.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Gotta Kink?

Today the Michael was accused of ‘having a kink’. This rather quirky and old-fashioned phrase was used by a DIVING instructor who curiously is also a DRIVING instructor and who I still swear I’ve seen on TV at some point in the past – he fervently denies it of course. Anyway, the whole ‘kink’ business came up when the aforementioned instructor retorted with it when I casually dropped into the conversation that prior to my aspirations of becoming a lawyer, I had intended to enter the dental profession. Actually, he didn’t so much accuse as rather ask whether I did or did not have a ‘kink’ of enjoying inflicting pain and trauma on people and charging them for the privilege.

Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth; I've no interest in inflicting pain - I’m only in it for the money, baby. Caa-ching!! Just kidding.

It does beg the question, though:

“Which is the most evil and sadistic: a lawyer or a dentist??"

Sunday, 1 July 2007

All smoked out....

So it's finally here - the first day of the smoking ban in public places. Many thought we'd never see the day when such a law came into effect and I know many croaky old codgers that'll be cursing it for years to come. I'm very much all for it, though, and readily dismiss arguments such as 'the state dictating to citizens' and the ban being tantamount to an erosion of human rights and civil liberties as 'narrow-sighted, dogmatic, and unreasonable bullsh*t'. Suffice to say, I set little store by the parochial argument a colleague attempted to ply me with earlier: 'we won the war so why should we be dictated to'. I snubbed her argument as politely as I could, but couldn't help wondering where the hell her line of reasoning came from. Actually, she's got a point, but it doesn't support her opinion at all. After all, didn't gassing people with toxic fumes against their will go out with the 'war'?!?!?

It can't be easy, though, for all those poor old nicotine-addicted, phlegm-hawking smokers, all gagging for a fag in places where before, they wouldn't have thought twice about lighting up. I do sympathise deeply, of course.

Oh well, they'll cope.