Saturday, 31 December 2011

Deadly New Year

NYE injury claim (regressive)

Just in case you were thinking that New Year’s Eve is a magical night of celebration, excitement for the year ahead and good natured alcohol-fuelled merriment, here’s the USA Today to remind us it’s not. It’s a great big stinking death-trap of a day.

Take one New Year's Eve. Combine with a Saturday. Now add alcohol – and you have a health and safety nightmare.

At least that's how some emergency room doctors feel about the fast-approaching celebration – which is always an occasion for widespread immoderate drinking and could be worse than usual this year.

Geez Louise. I wonder what those ER doctors from the US would make of an average Friday night in any NHS Emergency Department in the UK. Welcome to binge-drinking central!

The likely results will include car crashes caused by drunk drivers. Some of those drivers will be inexperienced teens who, in a new survey, confess that New Year's Eve is the most likely night for them to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But it doesn't stop there. Alcohol also is a factor in 60% of fatal burns and homicides and 50% of sexual assaults throughout the year, says the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Doctors also see many folks who literally fall down drunk and end up with broken bones and head injuries.

Or ‘having a good time’ as most binge-drinking Brits would describe it.

Strange there’s no mention of setting a firework off in your face just as Big Ben’s peels mark the arrival of the New Year.  People seem pretty adept at that too!

And then there's this: January 1 (which, note, begins right after the midnight toasts) [err, yep, thanks for that] is the deadliest day of the year for pedestrians. Some, no doubt, are hit by drunk drivers. But many are "drunk walking," too: 58% of those killed had high levels of alcohol in their blood, a study found. Drunk walking, on a mile by mile basis, is even riskier than drunk driving, one economist says.

An economist? Why do we need an economist to tell us that? A statistician maybe. A partner from a law firm who sees a spike in personal injury claims from drunk pedestrians perhaps in the New Year. Or even an emergency department doctor who can vouch for the ensuing trauma it causes. But where does an economist fit in with that?

Finally, there are the hangovers. They might not kill you (unless you operate heavy machinery with that next-day headache and brain fog), but they are mighty unpleasant.

Of course, there's one cure for all of these ills: not drinking. Or, if you're not driving, you could try drinking the same moderate amounts that work so nicely for so many people on so many other evenings.

I think in the case of Brits, we should just stick with the ‘not drinking’ message. We seem to have lost all perception of moderation a decade or so ago.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

The modern family Christmas experience?

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was moaned at for being surgically attached to their smartphone throughout the recent festivities.

I felt I’d done nothing wrong; after all, why should the celebrations, merriment and goodwill to all men be allowed to impinge on connectivity?

If Tiny Tim had had an iPhone, he’d have been far too busy having a shifty round the app store (or ‘liking’ a picture on Facebook showing off the bumper Cratchit family dinner) to have been endlessly bleating about God blessing everyone. 

Modern Family Christmas

Picture found here (actually making a different point).

(And no, I don’t know why they’re all dressed in blue.  Sorry).

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Blawgmas

Christmas 2011It’s a terrible cliché but this Christmas seems to have come around faster than ever.

Things have now wound down at Law Actually HQ and it’s time to enjoy a little festive merriment for the next few days. But who knows: I might get so sick of the excesses of food, wine and all the rest, an impromptu blog post might emerge in the not too distant future.

In the meantime, to all the other blawgers out there, have a good one, and don’t do anything you wake up regretting on Boxing Day.

Be right back

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


christmas tree injuries

From the Telegraph 18/12/11:

The condition – "Christmas Tree Syndrome" – is caused by mould growing on the trees, whose spores lead to problems when breathed in.

It has been discovered by scientists from Upstate Medical University, part of the State University of New York, who carried out research after observing a peak in respiratory illnesses in the weeks either side of December 25.

The team analysed clippings from 28 Christmas trees including needles and bark, from a range of species, and found 53 cases of mould.

Of these, 70 per cent can cause symptoms including itchy noses, watery eyes, coughing, shortness of breath, chest pains, sinus congestion, feelings of fatigue and problems sleeping.

Some of the mould identified can even lead to long term lung problems and conditions such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

The mould occurs on the trees naturally, but thrives in the warm conditions of a well-heated home at Christmas.

So it’s not just that seasonal, alpine aroma that I’ve brought into my home. It’s a mould infestation!!!!

Actually. Wait. Sniff again. Smell that?

Yes, I thought so too. It smells like a product liability claim doesn’t it?
Well, would you Adam-n-Eve it?

And I thought the only risk would be slipping over on a bauble, tripping on a length of tinsel or choking on a chocolate tree decoration.

Perhaps all trees should be ‘sheep dipped’ in an anti mould solution or blasted with the same stuff prior to sale. Or how about wrapping the whole tree in polythene for the duration it’s up in the house? Putting the onus on the poor consumer having to hose it down in the garden once they’ve got it home (as per Dr Kurlandsky’s suggestion) doesn’t seem quite right to me.

We put our own tree up on Saturday at Law Actually HQ. (A real one, obviously). I was surprised that of the multiple tags looped to the trunk, none included some kind of disclaimer (for the non-death or personal injury elements, anyway).

Sunday, 18 December 2011

With solicitors, it’s all me, me, me

(Ok, maybe that’s a bit harsh.  But articles like the one from the LSG below don’t do anything to dispel such impressions).

lawyer number 1From the Law Society Gazette 15/12/11:

The legal profession is unprepared for conflicts of interest in personal injury law that will occur from 2012, the Gazette has been told. Such conflicts could leave PI lawyers open to negligence claims and increase professional indemnity insurance premiums.

The problem arises from the willingness of insurers to ‘capture’ both sides of the same claim. Although this is already a feature of the market, it is likely to be exacerbated by the arrival of alternative business structures.

Think of it as a the full meal deal.

Currently, law firms who act for both claimant and defendant clients refer one, or both, clients to other advisers when a direct conflict is identified.

However, the same insurer can have a role on both sides, and so have a role in calculating quantum. If QATs are used with their current ‘calibrations’ unchanged, claimants may settle for undervalued awards, leaving their legal advisers open to professional negligence claims.

Granted, the Law Society Gazette is a practitioner publication so their lawyer centric focus is to be expected.  But it’s still interesting that the article leads with the risk and misfortune that might befall solicitors as a result of their clients suffering from deflated awards, rather than the clients themselves. Surely the focus should be on minimising the risk of undervalued awards being made in the first place because of the injustice to clients. The fact that clients might have a cause of action to sue their precious solicitor should be a secondary point. Aren’t clients the most important party here? You haven’t got to look very far through the SRA Code of Conduct 2011 to find plenty of support for that theory.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

When Christmas tunes all get a bit much…

If you’re starting to find those mercilessly painful Christmas songs played in nearly every shop at the moment are starting to get a bit much, here’s a healthy dose of Kevin (Bloody) Wilson to reset the balance.


A new take on an old classic


Santa’s not going to forget this one in a hurry…

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

What to get a blogger for Christmas?

blogger christmas gift ideas
Choosing Christmas gifts is such a difficult business isn’t it?  If you’re stumped as to what you should get the blogger in your life (legally oriented or otherwise), help is at hand.

mousematA new mouse mat  - Do people even use mouse mats any longer?  
Oh wait - I do!

More readers
- Ouch.  Don’t rub it in!  Blogs are having a tough time of it lately.  
Well, some are.

novelty USBNovelty USB drive - They’re a bit 2005 aren’t they?  And they haven’t got a great reputation for reliability or robustness.  

A Belkin Cushdesk
- these are actually excellent and perfect for the blogger who likes to blog from the boudoir using a laptop.  They’re inexpensive, very hard-wearing, ensure the air intake on your laptop doesn’t get blocked and, most importantly, prevents scorching to your upper thighs!


USB toaster - ‘Cause, you know, blogging really gives you an appetite.  If only this were a real product.  Sigh.USB toaster

Book: Blogging for dummies –
a bit of a no brainer (even if it’s an insult).  Still, you can laugh it off later saying it’s one of *those* novelty gifts.  But secretly, YOU’LL know you meant it!!

An iPad?  Oooh, generous.  But don’t be stupid: real bloggers don’t use iPads.  ;-)

rudolphA guest blog post - Wait, these are gift ideas - not punishments.  So please tell all those offering ‘high quality’ guest blog posts that they can stuff them up Rudolph’s ass.  (Sorry Rudolph).


touchscreen glovesTouchscreen gloves   Yes, yes, oh fricking YES!!  This is EXACTLY what I’ve been looking for! Now I get to keep using my phone AND the use of my fingers on the commute to work in the morning.  Why are railway station platforms the chilliest places in the world?

A visual overhaul from a professional web designer - Christmas is as good a time as any to sort that mess out!!

USB computer garland - I might have bought this to Christmas-fy Law Actually HQ, (well, my office, anyway) had it not been for the pretentious macbook used in the demo picture. 

USB garland

A bucket of creative inspiration - you can’t put a price on that.

wireless mouseCordless mouse – Isn’t it time you embraced a life free from wires?  Mind you, when those final couple of readers desert you in the New Year, there’ll be nothing to hang yourself with.  Oh wait - you can still use the keyboard wire.  Phew!

“ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income”
- Christmas is the time for miracles, right? :p pro-blogger
Link to them - Stuff gifts, what every blogger REALLY wants from Santa is google juice.  But try putting that in a stocking!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Christmas must be here again…

No, not because of that frickin’ coca cola truck.  Because of the cheesy Christmas-fied header on Law Actually.  I know: I spoil you each year, right?

It’s been a tough year for the more light-hearted ‘studenty’ approach to legal blogging and Law Actually had a massive mid-summer technical meltdown just to compound my misery.  From a traffic perspective, I’ve only recently started to fully recover from the effects of ‘the week my blog died’. It’s been a painful year and I’m lucky to have pulled through.

A direct result of that breakdown was a new blog theme which received a bit of a lukewarm reception (from me as well) but I’ve pulled out all the stops and dec’d it up to the rafters.

If only the house were so easy to decorate. Oh well, I’ve still got 2 weeks to sort that out (well, just under).  We’ll get there. 

Confused smile

Friday, 9 December 2011

Solicitors made a ‘huge contribution’

From the Law Society Gazette 06/12/11:

The lord chief justice has thanked defence solicitors for the ‘huge contribution’ made in the summer riot court cases, stressing that they had been included in his earlier praise of the rest of the legal profession.

At his annual press conference at the Royal Courts of Justice, Lord Judge said: ‘I want to record publicly that the defence lawyers made a huge contribution to the efficient running of the courts at that time. I am grateful to them.’

Judge said in his October judgment on riot sentencing he had thanked a lot of people who had helped in the ‘remarkable piece of efficiency’ dealing with the riot cases.

Well, that surely calls for a couple of tins of Quality Street to be sent down to the Law Society this Christmas.

law society quality street

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Christmas tunes (for the UK economy)

Lawyers generally have a bad reputation for being mean, conniving and downright slippery; as a profession they’re hated the world over. 

Still, it seems they’re not a patch on economists.  Well, one in particular.

mervyn christmasYou can find the full list of ‘songs’ here – think of this as just a festive taster! 
(Shame there’s nothing on YouTube for Save Our Savers… yet).

Mervyn King Is Coming To Town
(to tune of “Santa Claus is Coming To Town”) [I didn’t see that coming!]

You better be brave
You better not cry
You better not save
I'm telling you why
Mervyn King is coming to town

He's making a list
Checking a lot
He’s gonna find out who's saving or not
Mervyn King is coming to town

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas, can we have one too?
Poor savings we have, thanks to your MPC
We wish you a Merry Christmas, can we have one too?

Oh rid us of high inflation
Oh rid us of high inflation
Oh rid us of high inflation and do it right now

Interest rates
(to tune of “Jingle Bells”) [Fancy that?]

Dashing to the bank
In a chauffeured limousine
Goes Sir Mervyn King
Earning cash obscene
Mulled wine with the Court
Keeping spirits bright
Oh what fun it is to sing
A banker’s song tonight

Interest rates, interest rates
Lower them all the way
Oh what fun it is to squeeze
Savers every day
Interest rates, interest rates
Lower them all the way
Oh what fun it is to squeeze
Savers every day

Ding Dong Merrily on High

Ding dong merrily on high
Sir Mervyn’s plan’s not working
Ding dong! Verily we cry
It’s savers that he’s hurting
Gloria, It’s savers that he’s hurting

Mervyn, The Red-Nosed Banker
(to tune of “Rudolf, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”) [you don’t say…]

Mervyn, the red-nosed banker
Had a very nasty cold
Said he could cut inflation
Wish that we had all bought gold

All of the nation’s savers
Used to cry and call him names
They never let poor Mervyn
Join in any savers’ games

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say
“Mervyn with your nose so bright
Won’t you raise your rates tonight?”

The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas
Sir Mervyn gave to me:
Twelve months of waffle
Eleven annuities sinking
Ten growth adjustments
Nine MPC doves
Eight banks not lending
Seven economists spouting
Six pounds a-falling
Five per cent inflation
Four broken pensions
Three years of nothing
Two bouts of QE
And no interest on my savings

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Secret Santa & Donoghue v Stevenson

donoghue v stevenson - secret santa

I had an email from the Carbolic Smoke Ball store a few days ago. What fun!

It ran as follows:

Dear [The Michael]
When I did Articles in a City law firm, there was no such thing as 'Secret Santa'. Secretaries would kick-start the season by pinning sprigs of holly to doorways, but fee-earners never really entered into the festive spirit.

Nowadays, it's different. Fee-earners are encouraged to embrace rituals like 'Secret Santa' because it fosters team spirit. Allegedly. For those of a humbuggish disposition, it can be a trial.

Secret Santa? Pah!!

In my typical Scrooge-esque manner, I’ve opted out of our office’s SS this year. I’ve twice bought a piece of tat to give to a colleague I neither know nor care anything about, only to get an equally meaningless piece of tat back.

I wonder how Oscar Wilde would have viewed Secret Santa?  Perhaps that to do it once would be an adventure; to do it twice would be a trifle silly, but to do it three times would be a fricking joke.

Or something like that. 

p.s. I recently bought a genuine D. Stevenson ginger beer bottle … at auction. One of only two in the world, I'm told. Do you, or does anyone you know, have an interest in starting a museum of unusual legal artifacts, perhaps to go on tour around schools and colleges? So far, the museum's got er ... one old bottle to its name.

Be careful not to take that one down the bottle bank!!  Winking smile

Hmm. I wonder who got *the* bottle. (I probably should read the case again; I haven’t since I was an undergrad in the first year – presumably it was adduced as a piece of real evidence?).  Maybe the judge took it home as a candle holder at the end of the trial?

Still, imagine taking that one on the Antiques Roadshow.  It’d be bound to get Fiona Bruce’s juices going, I’m sure!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Google Chrome is now 2nd most popular browser

From Paul Thurrott’s WinInfo Short Takes of the week 02/12/11:

Google's Chrome has been on the market for only three years, but it has already surpassed Mozilla Firefox to become the number-two most-often-used web browser after Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE). That's the word from the market researchers at StatCounter, at least, though it's only a matter of time before others who follow web-browser usage share report similar findings[.]

I jumped on the Chrome bandwagon at the end of 2008 and haven’t looked back. In 3 short years it’s got to the point where there are now hardly any people I know that *don’t* use Chrome. It’s the de facto standard browser at work and I live in Chrome every single day.

Firefox has turned into a bit of an also-ran (although they are at least fighting back a bit now) and IE has lurched from versions 7, 8 to 9, all promising the world and under-delivering each time. 

It’s been a long-standing joke that Internet Explorer is simply a one-time portal for users to download a real web browser.  That’s still true today, sadly, as How to Geek cheekily alludes to:

IE 9 - New 'n' Improved

IE 9 is fine; it just isn’t anywhere near as great as Google Chrome. And that’s the problem.