Bleergh

Apr. 11th, 2007 02:14 pm
liadnan: (Default)

The BBC saw fit to inform us this morning that 60% of men [or some such figure, and was it 40% of women] are now living at home. Where the hell else would they live? If that many people were actually homeless we really would be in serious shite.

What they were actually getting at was the number of people [of what ages? Didn't say] still living with their parents. Whether this genuinely constitutes a problem, rather than just a new twist on common family/social structures that weren't really abandoned that long ago, I am unsure.

Weekend was wonderful, mainly spent being Catholic at the Cathedral, save for acquiring a summer cold which, while coming back on the train from a day-jaunt to my mother's on Monday somehow turned into a raging fever. Am now mainly recovered (just in time for Pashazade to start coming down with same) but am feeling utterly shattered, so much so that I haven't yet summoned up the energy to formulate a polite response to an instructing solicitor's email criticising some trust drafting and asking for more documents. At the moment, mental drafts begin "you are a cretin" which is possibly not the best way to correspond with those who pay me.

liadnan: (Default)

When asked to pick up a brief at 5.30 for a hearing the next day, shortly before a bankholiday weekend which the IS is taking off for just as soon as he's bunged the papers on the fax (a few hundred of them, in no readily discernable order), always assume it is going to be a fucking hospital pass.

Heigh ho. It's rare to seek light relief in a High Court judgment on appeal from the VAT Tribunal but Mr Justice Mann has doubtless added much to the sum of judicial knowledge in his judgment in Spearmint Rhino v. HMRC. Apparently dancers at Spearmint Rhino are not agents of Spearmint Rhino (or employees, so far as individual lap dances are concerned), which is thus not obliged to pay VAT on the provision of their services (bearing in mind that "it was not submitted that the [various transactional] documents were in any way a sham or failed to record the true relationship between any of the parties" on which point I wouldn't dream of commenting). It does occur to me to wonder whether any of the dancers themselves are over the VAT threshold and thus liable, but I guess probably not, unless they're in very high demand.

At the start he refers to the gaps in judicial knowledge left by Sutton v. Hutchinson, an even better case where Ward LJ started off with: "The appellant is a lap dancer. I would not, of course, begin to know exactly what that involves. One can guess at it, but could not faithfully describe it. The Judge tantalisingly tells us, at paragraph 21 of his judgment, that the purpose is "to tease but not to satisfy"."

and then continued with the almost too clichéd for belief story of how:

By about the end of 2002, or early in 2003, the appellant seems to have begun to tease the respondent. He, being a rich businessman, sought, no doubt, to enliven his lonely evenings in London by seeking entertainment at the Spearmint Rhino club in Tottenham Court Road where the appellant was then employed. Having been tempted, he managed to obtain her telephone number and invited her to dinner. It was not exactly the traditional boy meets girl, "Let's have dinner, darling" kind of invitation. It was an invitation which she accepted, but entirely on the basis that she would be there as his escort and, as his escort, she would provide the services of companionship and amusement, but for a consideration. That consideration would amount, according to the judgment, to perhaps about £700 or £800 a night for the pleasure of her company at dinner. But the arrangement was made on a number of occasions and, as they went on, the relationship changed and at some time early in 2003 it is common ground that the services included sexual services, for which even more money was paid as a consideration. Whether or not rule 2 of the Spearmint Rhino club had been breached, requiring that you could get no satisfaction, we do not know and fortunately do not have to decide.

... Ultimately the claimant wanted some of his money, which he said was a loan, back. Later on Ward LJ observed that "One may ask, how on earth does a case like this see the light of day?". Indeed. Utterly bizarre story.

Splendid

Mar. 8th, 2007 11:39 pm
liadnan: (Default)

Via Anarcha: lawyer applies for extension due to drink. I wish I had the nerve to do something like this, but I think there are precious few judges in England who'd take it. Certainly in the Chancery Division. Well. Maybe one or two.

Somewhat staggeringly, it appears the motion was granted.

Sad...

Feb. 14th, 2007 02:38 pm
liadnan: (Default)

.. that someone died. But I don't quite buy The Times take on this story (via Charon QC). For a start, the clear implication of the article is that this was a case of suicide. Yet there seems no real proof of that, and Tate Modern seems an odd place to choose. Secondly, the article states that:

As a £55,000-a-year junior, he would frequently have been called on to work 16-hour days, seven days a week, for weeks on end to keep up with the firm’s relentless flow of multi-billion-pound deals.

In some departments he might certainly have been called upon to do that sometimes. But the article makes it appear that this is the norm, 52 weeks a year, across the magic circle and the next tier, across departments, and from what I understand from friends at such places, it isn't quite that bad (ETA: -in London, I wouldn't like to comment on New York). In particular, the guy worked in IP, not typically an area where such hours are at all regular.

Then the article goes on to talk about bonuses. This seems a bit of a non-sequitur. The current ranting about bonuses is not, so far as I understand it, about the (comparatively) small bonuses of junior MC solicitors but about the vastly more significant bonuses elsewhere in the City, traders and the like.

Finally, assuming for the moment that suicide is what this was, every suicide is a tragedy. There are thousands of them in the UK every year, particularly among young men: it's a tragedy which we have largely failed to address (though the rate is decreasing). Why does this one have a major article in The Times and a Standard headline? Because of his education and profession? Evidently his education and its cost are considered relevant to the article, as they are referred to: "Mr Courtney studied law on an open scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford, and spent a year at law school in London. He previously attended Durham School, which costs £4,000 a term". Because of the implied inference that he killed himself because his job was too stressful? Isn't it a bit soon, a few days after the event, to jump to that kind of conclusion? For the record, I do think many law firms make outrageous demands of their juniors (he was one year PQE). But to imply that this has caused someone to kill themselves seems a bit over the top at this stage.

I didn't know him, though I shan't be a bit surprised if I discover someone I know did. I'm sorry he's dead, the more so if he killed himself as a result of desparate unhappiness. But this article seems to be nothing more than a mass of speculation, including statistics of which I am doubtful, seeking to jump to conclusions about possible connections between someone's death and what I consider the real problem of the way we do business in the City, quite possibly having a negative effect on the possibility of a sensible debate on that problem. Frankly it reads like a Daily Mail article.

I don't work in that world, quite, though I have many friends and acquaintances who do. I'd be particularly interested to know what those of you who do or have think. I'd never understood FF to have a particularly bad reputation, for a start.

liadnan: (Default)

There is a certain joy to be found in drafting exquisitely polite pleadings to the effect that:

"You, the Claimants, are timewasting clowns.
And as for you, the so-called professional representatives, we think you ought to be putting your insurers on notice about possible wasted/indemnity costs orders and also worrying about our shiny new regulators on this one, you bunch of bonkers incompetent cretins. PS and WOP your counsel may have been called the year I was born but his drafting is embarrassingly awful and the opinion from him you so kindly disclosed is quite unbelievably crap, plus I looked him up and he has really silly sideburns."

liadnan: (Default)

To the Great Hall of the Royal Courts of Justice for the tenth anniversary of the Bar Pro Bono Unit, swarming with the great and the good. Loathe all members of this government as I may, and unimpressed with his Opinion on the Iraq War as I am, it is to Peter Goldsmith's credit that a year before the election that made him Lord Goldsmith, Attorney General, he was the moving spirit behind the foundation of the Unit.

I've done a fair amount of work for the Unit over the last few years: far, far less than the truly committed few but perhaps more than others. Since, somehow, private client express trusts, commercial offshore dealings, business partnerships and commercial land matters rarely qualify for the Unit's consideration most of it has been in my other, least important to me, area of practice: corporate insolvency and most often bankruptcy. Which I actually loathe as a practice area as Room TM101 is one of the most depressing places I have ever spent time and I can't avoid thinking "there but for the grace of God".

There can be benefits in doing PB work beyond the warm feeling in the soul and the karma points. Just once i a while a case worth taking all the way may turn up, often in the pigeonhole of someone who'd be far too junior to take it were it paid "at a proper fee". Plus there's the networking angle. But by and large I honestly think the motivation is from a desire to do good works. Or perhaps for some, a kind of unfocussed guilt for being in a well-paid profession. Most lawyers in this country have a passing interest in both the law as an academic discipline and the general concept of justice too, strange though that may seem, and doing PB work does fit in with that. Perhaps the legally most complex Opinion I have written this year was on a PB bankruptcy matter. Most of the work in my experience consists of explaining why, exactly, the client doesn't have a case -they have after all, by definition been refused Legal Aid for one reason or another, which is a bad start-, but there's a genuine benefit in doing that in itself.

Even so, it's good to be thanked, with free-flowing and tolerable wine and really quite impressive nibbles. Plus, since I tend to find the recent practice of hiring out the RCJ for private functions mildly irritating -somehow a tad inappropriate- at least for once it was (a) a charitable function connected with the law (b) to which I was invited. Not to mention the enthusiastic students and pupils, most of them women, who had volunteered to do the drink serving. One of them even asked me for my card, sadly she admitted it was so she could write in to ask to do a mini-pupillage (which isn't in my control, still when I pass her details on my colleague and I think she should take points for utter brazenness).

Couldn't quite see the point of having a quintet play in a notoriously enormous barn of a space though.

Always amused to watch certain legendary members of the senior judiciary, particularly those legendary for their socialising as well as their judgments, shmoozing around too. Evidently Lord Leg-Over still has it....

Ho Hum

Oct. 3rd, 2006 11:57 pm
liadnan: (Default)

Feeling v. tired at the moment and constantly headachy. I have a vague suspicion I need an eye test. I am ridiculously busy with advisory work but all my court hearings keep settling: almost two thousand quids worth of chargeable work has gone off this week.

Spent yesterday morning at the Red Mass at Westminster Cathedral (service for the start of the legal year), all dressed up in wig and gown and uncomfortably aware, as I talked to various High Court, ECtHR, and Roman Rota (Catholic canon law) judges and drank slightlyfar too much for 11am on a Monday morning that Basil had left more cat hair on my gown than I had previously realised. Then dragged off to Soho by people I had never met in my life before for a "lunch" that went on until 3. Not an enormous amount of chargeable work that day...

Tumtitum. Vaguely bored with everything at the moment. The most interesting thing in my life is proofing etc K's PhD thesis. Oh, and Maid Marion and Her Merry Men, a work of genius.

liadnan: (Default)

Glad to see Midsomer Murders remains as ludicrous as ever.

I am procrastinating again. I had decided, due to financial pressures, not to go to Georgia this autumn as planned but to leave it until spring. Until, that is, a colleague who was by coincidence also headed there ended up having to change his plans: shortly put his flights are available if I pay half the original cost and half the cost of changing them. Hmm. Saving is significant, but maybe not enough. The flights are via Riga (why?) and arrive at 3.30 am. A friend of his who lives in Georgia had assured him that this wouldn't be a problem, but since said friend recently cheerfully made a jaunt to Abhkazia from Tbilisi -if you aren't Nhw you may need a bit of googling to find out why this makes our eyebrows raise- we both suspect his views of what does and does not constitute a problem may differ from both of ours, despite our mutual penchant for mildly difficult travel. Ho hum. Bookings have to be changed by midday tomorrow...

In the meantime, may I assure all readers that my professional life fails to much resemble either of these two stories. Sad to say. Ours is a dignified and noble profession.

liadnan: (Default)

... even though the most effort I've put in at the office since Wednesday morning was swilling champagne on the roof for some hours yesterday. Off to the Proms for Ligeti, Schumann and Brahms, and then tomorrow morning to Leeds for Jen's wedding hurrah. Have a good weekend all.

I Bet

Jul. 4th, 2006 02:55 pm
liadnan: (Default)

From The Lawyer

A challenging opportunity has arisen for the urgent recruitment of a qualified commercial/ corporate /projects lawyer, who will act as senior legal consultant with an international consultancy practice based in Iraq. The successful candidate will be engaged in very exciting work in numerous sectors.

Perfect for any lawyer looking for adventure and the chance to escape the monotony of a conventional law firm. Pay and benefits will be extremely good and the work will be demanding and very interesting. The premises are in a secure location.

There are secure locations in Iraq?

liadnan: (Default)

with Friday afternoons? It's not as though anyone actually does any work on them. Is it? We might as well all just sod off to the pub at lunchtime.

Even the LRB personals failed to lift my boredom this week. Ho hum. Someone amuse me.

Forwhy...?

Dec. 2nd, 2005 07:44 pm
liadnan: (Default)

It is a quarter to 8 on a Friday evening and I have a party to go to. Instead I am sitting in my office waiting for signatures of seven parties to some fourteen documents to be sent through on a Very Large Transaction.

This is only one of many reasons why I am a Proper Lawyer litigator in my real life.

Hot

Aug. 29th, 2005 11:36 am
liadnan: (Default)

There's a thing. Thought I'd check my email while I was in town for the morning buying some bits and pieces, and have discovered forwarded work emails in my inbox. Am debating whether to deal with them now, or leave them until next week... Ought to be a higher rate for working from the Cyclades I think.

liadnan: (Default)

As I was waiting on the platform at Chalk Farm this morning the alarm went off, a typical old-fashioned fire-alarm/alarm clock type din. This happens about once a week when the lift cocks up, and normally no one bats an eyelid.

There was a definite moment when almost everyone on the fairly crowded platform (yes, those few days of guaranteed free seats on the Northern line seem lost) turned towards the end, where the way out is, a moment of collective dissonance as everyone thought "is that calling Time for me?"

.. and a collective shrug, as we turned back to look at the board, which had been swearing blind there was a Charing X train in a minute for some five minutes. That caused no one any surprise or concern at all, of course.

The bell was still ringing as the train pulled out of the platform.

***

Once again, that pre-holiday realisation of approaching litigation and completion deadlines is making a glorious July my busiest month of the year. What I really want to be doing is sprawling on a bench outside a Primrose Hill pub with a gin and tonic in my hand, or, still better, sitting in a beach bar on Syros drinking a frappé with nothing more onerous to decide than which book to take to the beach today. Instead I have to write three opinions in two days. Heigh ho.

Ethics

Jun. 8th, 2005 10:45 pm
liadnan: (Default)

Apparently my profession requires I have ethics. Who knew?

So, after four hours of ludicrous and not so ludicrous problems (in my very first trial my client departed drastically from the evidence in his witness statement when in the box and I had very little idea what to do) we all went and got drunk and exchanged gossip. What fun. Hah. I always swore I would abjure socialising with lawyers - far too easy to be drawn into a tiny little world. Though the unfavourable opinions of one of the QCs from the set where I did my first six [trained, basically] of the subsequent absorption merger of that set into a mega-set were quite interesting.

Now I am too drunk to cook. Heigh ho. When my liver fails I shall blame Continuing Professional Development.

liadnan: (Default)

Quarter past midnight and I'm considering affidavits......

Sounds like the start of a rather dull and poorly scanned blues song. I have several of those at present.

liadnan: (Default)

One week you have nothing to do. You spend your time improving your tetris skills.

The next week you have files by the armfull piled on your desk. You have a High Court injunction first thing tomorrow and the papers didn't arrive until 4. You have some urgent devilling to do on a major case. You have two other hearings to prepare for, pleadings to write and two opinions promised by the end of the week.

Tetris or patience, that is the question.

Tetris. And thinking about beaches where the water is 80F at 9AM, just time for a dip before work.

liadnan: (Default)

The taxman did indeed take all my dough, but that was two months ago, and a month in the future, so though I continue to suffer for my poor financial planning it's hardly news. I did, however, spend this sunny afternoon lazing. To be frank, I spent the morning lazing too. My only real accomplishment of the day was completing a straight-through re-read of Lindsey Davis' Falco novels, and hoping once again that the possible upturn in the last one after three duds does indeed represent a return to form. Action on global warming clearly is needed immediately, or my productivity will continue to deteriorate. God knows what it would be like if I was working, say, somewhere the water temperature is 79F at 9AM.

I do love spring in London though. It's just unfortunate it gives me itchy feet, particularly as I grow older and the list of things I haven't done looks ever more hopeless. The breeze blowing through the window I am now able to leave open all night, and the daylight in my flat at times I'm there cruelly reveals its grubbiness. And Now 60 is out. The last time I moaned about time passing I think it was in the context of Now 59. Obviously that was only a month or so ago, but still, it bothers me.

My feet aren't itching to leave the profession, or even my branch of the profession (senior silks from nearby sets writing on the wall by heading off to join notably litigious Magic Circle firms and David F. Clementi not withstanding - no, I don't know if his middle initial is an F, but it is to me). I've already had a gear-wrenching change of life-plan once. But various things to leave me feeling like a change of scene, at least for a while, and I also want to do something else as well. Ruts need to be dug out of.

Sometimes, chance actually might be a fine thing. I've had more than enough of being single too, but I fear that may be a far deeper rut.

****

Heading back from lunch today, from Soho via Seven Dials, I noticed that the shop which has long had in its window a book of cut-out and keep paper dolls of His Holiness JPII (ventilator not included) now also has one of George W. Bush and family. What a wonderful world this is, that has such people in it.

Red Queeen

Mar. 17th, 2005 10:17 pm
liadnan: (Default)

I'm having something of a manic week on work, but rather enjoying it, somewhat perversely. In the interstices, I've managed to fit in listening to a Law Lord preach heresy about the interpretation of contracts, go and see the Caravaggio exhibition at the National (highly recommended: small but perfectly formed) and worry about stuff. Which is all well and good, but I'm somewhat failing to keep up with my major purpose in life, finding things to write about here...

liadnan: (Default)

So, today's hearing having ended early in a certain amount of hysteria (the reasons for the hysteria probably being comprehensible without detailed and lengthy explanation only to litigation-oriented lawyers, and I've been banging on about that side of my life too much lately), I decided to pootle off to UCH to see about fixing up some physio on my shoulder, courtesy of my GP's referral.

She'd given me a choice of UCH (which is fairly convenient for work) and the Royal Free (which is fairly convenient for home). Mindful of advice once given to me by a wise if flaky woman I opted for the teaching hospital...

Fourteen sodding weeks on the list. Balls to this (memo to self, must talk to health insurers tomorrow). So, thinking dire thoughts, I wandered down TCR to the tube station and slapped my Oyster card on the reader.

No response, and no response when doing so more carefully on other readers.

After some exploration, in the company of a friendly chap in the ticket office, it transpired that my Oyster card thought I had an "incomplete journey" (ie hadn't touched in) ending at Goodge St at... 2.30 AM.. (at which point the friendly ticket inspector's voice trailed away in embarrassment). It might have been more understandable if my journey starting at Goodge St last night (after an interminable lecture entitled "Law and Economics 20 years on", a worthy competitor for prizes in dullness, incomprehensibility, pointlessness and further dullness with its subject matter) and my journey ending at Goodge St that afternoon hadn't been otherwise accounted for on the record. The only possible explanation is that I've taken to exploring the tube network in my sleep. While no tubes are running. I shall take to wearing a "please look after this bear" label and would ask you all to be kind should you bump into me at Hounslow one night. At least this explains why I've been so tired recently.

Either that or Goodge St is some kind of temporal anomaly, but I refuse to make lame Hitchhikers references.

Rose tints my world, keeps me safe from my trouble and pain (no points).

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