Thursday, 26 November 2009

A gritty problem: motorist sues Highway Agency


From the Telegraph 10/11/09:

A motorist who spent two days on a life support machine after crashing on black ice is suing the Highways Agency for failing to grit the road properly.

The 47-year-old man, who is a member of the Royal Navy, sustained serious injuries after his car was involved in a three-vehicle collision at Trewint, near Launceston, Cornwall on Jan 21.

He spent three weeks in hospital and is still suffering health problems as a result of the crash.

The victim, from Liskeard, Cornwall, was one of 30 drivers whose cars crashed on a 40-mile stretch of the A30, which runs running from Okehampton in Devon to Bodmin, Cornwall.

No motorist has mounted a successful claim against the agency.

While minor roads are the responsibility of local authorities, the burden of maintaining trunk routes rests with the Highways Agency.

The accident took place more than a week before Britain was hit by the worst blizzards in decades, which led to a shortage of grit and salt throughout the country.

A Highways Agency spokesman said salt was aid on the road earlier in the day, it was washed away by showers. Then the temperature dropped freezing the surface water.

"We can't predict what the weather's going to be like just after it's been gritted, that's life. And even when roads are gritted, it's not magic - drivers still need to take a great deal of care."

While road users all owe a duty of care to one another, there is also little doubt that those responsible for maintaining the safety of roads owe a similar duty to those who use them. Both rock salt and grit are fickle substances and although excellent at preventing the icing-up of roads, are highly susceptible to being washed away by a simple rain shower.

Localised squalls which can wash away certain patches of laid salt makes the decision to re-grit very difficult – particularly within the confines of a tight budget. The salt can also be worn away by unexpectedly high levels of traffic on certain stretches of road and suggesting that all roads must remain perfectly gritted at all times during cold weather is simply unrealistic. That said, major trunk roads should always be treated as a priority in respect of gritting and a cautious, ‘better safe than sorry’ approach is far better than a laissez-faire one.

Should the claim succeed of course, it could pave the way for further action against the Highways Agency. Whether, though, within the confines of limited budgets, inaccurate weather reports and good old mother nature at her unpredictable best, the nation’s roads become any safer as a result of a humble personal injury case is another matter all together.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The ethical lawyer: a contradiction in terms

From the Law Gazette 23/11/09:

The earliest surviving records of medieval principles of ethical conduct for lawyers concern the advocates and proctors who appeared before the church courts. One very early record is a book written in 1239 by William of Drogheda, an Oxford priest and lawyer, advising the reader how to be a successful advocate. The text reveals something of an ironic disconnect between the ethical standards of these two professions on the important subject of remuneration: the author recommends that advocates should ensure payment in advance – 'Get your money while the patient is ill.'

For those who mistakenly thought that the legal profession has only recently given cause for garnering a reputation of consisting solely of ruthless, money-grapping, Machiavellian chancers.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Tech Support Cheat-Sheet

I found this brilliant flowchart via Digg a few weeks ago and what with the house move, limited internet connectivity etc. I hadn’t got around to posting it. 


tech support cheat sheet

So true.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Overdue library books returned 50 years late!

library returns From Miami Herald 14/11/09:

A high school librarian in Phoenix says a former student at the school returned two overdue books checked out 51 years ago along with a $1,000 money order to cover the fines.

Camelback High School librarian Georgette Bordine says the two Audubon Society books checked out in 1959 and the money order were sent by someone who wanted to remain anonymous.

Bordine says the letter explained that the borrower's family moved to another state and the books were mistakenly packed.

The letter said the money order was to cover fines of 2 cents per day for each book. That would total about $745. The letter says the extra money was added in case the rates had changed.

Bordine says the money will buy more books, and the overdue books will be returned to the shelves.

I found this rather cute story via Digg earlier and it reminded me of the time when, rooting around in old boxes of books in the loft at home, I found a few old school and college textbooks that had somehow come into my permanent possession.

I particularly like the fact that returner had tried to allow for the increase in overdue-rates.  I can only assume they must have had a full-on crisis of conscience to part with $1000, bless ‘em.

Perhaps I should do something about returning my textbooks someday, though no doubt amendments to the curriculum would have rendered them obsolete.  Or something like that, anyway.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

November’s Wacky Search Terms

november's wacky search terms

While my lack of internet connectivity has hampered my blogging activities somewhat over the past month or so, I’ve still been keeping up with the bizarre searches through which people find Law Actually. As ever, we’ve got some real brarmers in there!

“where as a barrister can you get tattooed and pierced” – shoulders and back for men; inner forearms and the trusty ‘tramp-stamp’ zone for women. As for piercings, well - bellybuttons all the way.  :-/

didn't like looe – I’m not particularly enamoured with it myself.

“london hotel travel fun post a comment -crap –sh*t -murder -killed- I’ve stayed in a dodgy London hotel before but nothing quite like this!

“letch – I’m on the front page on Google for this. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.

“firework accident compensation claim – well, I did warn you all.

“fireworks uk law time – How about ‘never’ as a piece of possible legal reform?

“uk law student moved to be a US attorney” – Wow. I’m not sure if that qualifies as an upgrade or downgrade.

“how to turn wifi piggybackers upside down – Grab them by their ankles!

“economic burden, kid car accidents – I guess we all have regrets!

“workers compensation porn benefits cancelled”  That’s quite a perk.

“average law student blog - as the sphere's own Pooni might say, I'm not your average student, thank you.

“strawberries law
– I mean, seriously: what kind of answer were you looking for?

“dentist works on one patient – well, that’s better than two at a time, surely?

cow kicked out injury claim” – As opposed to the judge dismissing it, I suppose?

accidents down the sewers” – I should imagine there are a fair few ‘accidents’ lurking about down there.

“i dot car accident and now i am claim for injury” – good for you, I say.

“employment law pillow talk uk - whatever does it for you, darling.

“fountain pen law actually – Perhaps I should start doing my own branded pens?

“pupilages porno” – Sweet Jesus... I can sense another film idea coming on!

“Someone getting sat on by a cow” – As long as it’s not me, I don’t mind.

“police found 60 indecent images on my pc where could they have come from?” – Hmm... that’s what they all say!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Blogging is for life, not just for ......

blogging graphicWithout wanting to be accused of scaremongering (or simply being full of doom and gloom) I think it’s time I wrote up another post in which I bemoan the general ‘state of the blawgosphere’. I wrote up a particularly negative entry last December in which I prophesied that the end of the blawgosphere (as we knew it) was nigh. Happily, that proved to be incorrect, as the sphere welcomed a bevy of new blawgs into the fray in the subsequent months. There’s no denying that some of the newbies have carved out excellent reputations for themselves – relating both to the quality of the posts and the frequency of the entries.

However, since this Spring, the rate at which the new blawgs have sprung up has flat-lined and a number of those new entries have more or less died their death, descending into perpetual silence.  Any ideas about Lacunae, Obiter or Templar anyone?  Anyone?

I read somewhere recently that new blogs are somewhat like new businesses in the sense that close to half of them fail in the first year. Still, a blogger can punch out a lot of posts in 12 months and contribute fruitfully to his or her chosen section of cyberspace. But those blawgs which spring up with boundless reserves of enthusiasm only for life to dessert them as quickly as they arrived are something else all together. And, perhaps it’s just me, but I really struggle to get what’s going on with them. If the blogger isn’t too sure about continuing, wouldn’t the posts begin to falter and trail off rather than dropping off the radar entirely within the blink of an eye.

I’m certainly not advocating that blogging should take the form of some ‘old boys’ club. However, the stalwart bloggers – whom have grown considerably in number despite my foreboding blog posts every now and then – keep the sphere being what it should be. New entries are great and diversity should be welcomed but how much value do they add when their presence proves to be so hollow, meaningless and short-lived.

The last thing I want here is to discourage potential bloggers from giving it a go. But I would say this to them: try it out, experiment, embrace the sense of community by all means but don’t go and start promising the earth if you’ve serious doubts about sticking around. And if you decide it’s not for you, knock it on the head conclusively. No one wants to see a blawg – however great or not so great it was in its heyday –be left hanging around painfully and uncertainly like the last turkey in the shop. Surely the least the failed blogger can do – if only for the dignity of his or her blog – is to wrap it up with a few words proclaiming, ‘this is it folks – it was fun while it lasted’.

The tacitly accepted rules of the game have changed , too, recently. No longer does the blogger have to be chained to their laptop on a daily basis – or something like that. But in all seriousness, I think the window of acceptability in terms of posting frequency has definitely widened considerably in the last year or so. I would go as far as saying that blawgers can still remain part of the valued fabric of sphere while only posting perhaps once a month. (I think Law and Life and certain other distinguished members of the ‘sphere might be pushing their luck a bit, though).  :-)

In short, it’s the quality and loyalty of their presence which creates value and drives their readership. Of course, this acceptability shift was borne partly out of necessity. Many student blawgers have seen their lifestyles change considerably as they leave the academic world for the unknown and murky recesses of the world of work - leaving them with precious few moments to update their beloved blawgs. I, too, can now speak from experience on this score.

Ultimately, of course, the wheat and chaff are always sorted and as for those blawgs that were always destined to die after a few hope-filled weeks, well, we should perhaps just let nature take its course.

As an aside – and with the admission that Law Actually has been a bit quiet of late - I think it’s timely to give a shout-out to a few missing (and much missed) blawgers who haven’t posted in a while.

So, Law Minx, Lacklustre Lawyer and others, let’s hear from you soon, eh?!

Friday, 6 November 2009

The Firework-Fun Fallacy


From P&C Express 05/11/09:

A health chief has warned that fireworks can have "devastating consequences" if they are not used safely.

Ian Walton, accident and emergency operations director at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS), said its ambulance crews will treat a number of patients with burns to more serious, life-threatening injuries on bonfire night.

He said: "Fireworks used properly are safe are accidents are avoidable. However, they can cause devastating injuries if safety precautions are not followed.

"We recommend people attend one of the professionally-organised public displays. However, if you are planning to host your own event, we ask you exercise caution and make safety a priority to ensure everyone has a good time without getting hurt.

While it’s true that, used properly, fireworks can be safe, a significant section of the general public illustrate annually that they’re simply not capable of following safety directions and employing a little commonsense. It doesn’t seem to matter how many safety warnings go out each year, or how well-labelled the fireworks are themselves, injuries often ensue during amateur November 5th festivities.

For what it’s worth, I’m rather doubtful about the sense in selling fireworks to the general public at all – though I’m aware there are certain counter-arguments which can be wheeled-out in response. As well as the accidents resulting in terrible injuries, fireworks also have a habit of falling into the wrong hands – typically kids. For me, the significance of both of these factors outweigh any benefits that could be said to flow from selling fireworks to ordinary members of the public.

Is hosting your own private firework display really worth the danger and hassle? With society being so trigger-happy from a litigation standpoint, can the average family risk inviting others round for a typical garden display? After all, there’s little legal redress for victims injured as a result of their own negligent conduct and they may unwittingly cause actionable injuries to others.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Technical Problems

Contrary to popular belief, the Michael has not disappeared off the face of the earth, nor ducked out of the blawgosphere either. No, the reason for my lack of posting is based on the utter incompetence of certain third parties.

After a huge bodge-up of meteoric proportions by my ISP (yes, I’m looking at you, Tiscali), I still don’t have internet access at my new house. Almost worse still is that when I do receive it, the best connection I can expect is an unacceptably paltry 512kbs. This is going to cause a massive lifestyle change – at least from an entertainment standpoint – in that we won’t be able to stream content as we’ve gotton comfortably used to. Just to make sure I'm utterly left without other viable options, I'm not in a cable broadband area and it's also a blackspot for mobile broadband. Note to self: make sure you check these things out BEFORE you move next time, Michael.

So other than being royally pis*ed at the prospect of a sub-standard internet experience, things have been going all right. Still, I don't think we'll be renewing the tenancy which expires in a few short months.

Rest assured, I’ll be back to posting regularly very soon. Just with an absolute joke of an internet connection.