Monthly Archives: July 2011

A heap of savagery

William of Wykeham (1324-1404) founded both Winchester College and New College Oxford. His motto, “Manners Makyth Man”  was adopted by both.

Make of it what you will but there has been plenty in the news recently to cause one to reflect that a few more “manners” would certainly help to “mayk” the “man” or men, or even women.

Manners makyth man has been translated to mean a variety of things but one of my favourites is the following:

“It is by politeness, etiquette and charity that society is saved from falling into a heap of savagery.”

You will realise, of course, that I am in fact talking about the frequency of buses, but before you turn away, let me put that subject briefly into context.

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Doing the Lamberth talk

Imagine a standup comic who delivers the punch-lines of his jokes first, a plane with landing gear that deploys just after touchdown, or a stick of dynamite with a unique fuse that ignites only after it explodes. That’s what document production after trial is like—it defeats the purpose.

These are the opening lines of the Judgment of US District Court Chief Judge Royce Lamberth in a case called DL and Others v The District of Columbia.

Now I had never heard of Judge Lamberth but getting discovery wrong in his court evidently results in what has been described as a “scathing opinion”.

In his Memorandum Opinion  [PDF, 18pp] Judge Lamberth describes the handling of discovery by the defendants and their attorneys in a six year class action as “repeated, flagrant, and unrepentant failures to comply with Court orders.”  Not that this would ever happen in this jurisdiction of course! 

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Spoiling the party

Whatever your views about the phone hacking scandal which has taken over our newspapers and almost every other source of news, I cannot believe that there is anyone who is not appalled that someone should think it appropriate to hack into and delete phone messages on a mobile phone belonging to a kidnapped and ultimately murdered schoolgirl.

Milly Dowler and her family did not deserve that.

The worrying consequence of all this is that the very people who should be investigating what happened and prosecuting the perpetrators are the very people whose sticky fingers are all over the wrongdoings of the past few years. The police have much to answer for, as have the journalists and the management of the companies which own our main newspapers. There is bound to be legitimate concern that we will never get to the bottom of what happened and be able to seek to ensure that it never happens again while the people who should be responsible for putting right the wrongs committed are in charge of the investigations. It is like putting the prisoners in charge of the prison.

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How many is a billion?

How many is a billion? Everyone knows the answer.

Or do they? Does it actually matter?

The official answer is that what we in England used to know as a billion has been downgraded. Is this just another example of Governments massaging statistics? I suppose it matters if you are trying to make something look bigger than it actually is. If I am a billionaire, I want to be worth a million million. But I am not, so do I care that I am these days only worth a thousand million?

Likewise with a trillion which has undergone an even more extensive cut. What used to be a million, million, million million is now only a million, million.

We are obsessed these days with the “how many?” question. How many friends have you got on Facebook? How many followers on Twitter? How many connections on LinkedIn?

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I told you so

Readers of this blog will be familiar with McMillan v Hummingbird Speedway.

It was a case in the US  last year where a court ordered a claimant to release his user name and password to a Facebook site where it was thought he had posted comments about injuries sustained in an accident for which he was now claiming damages.

In various posts referring to the Hummingbird case [for example, Judge, please be my friend, 18th Jan, 2011] I predicted that this decision would be followed elsewhere.

A court in Pennsylvania has now followed this judgement in Zimmermann v Weis:

Zimmerman v. Weis Markets, Inc., No. CV-09-1535, 2011 WL 2065410 (Pa. Comm. Pl. May 19, 2011)

I wonder how long it will be before the courts in England and Wales follow suit?

Fasten your seat belts

Is this the correct advice to businesses which are now subject to the Bribery Act 2010?

After the thousands of words written about it over the past 18 months, the Bribery Act has now come into effect. As from July 1st 2011, British business has to face up to the reality of doing business under a statutory anti-bribery regime in much the same way as US business has done for over 30 years with its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

What does this mean for business? There are countless commentaries on the subject and, as they are readily accessible on the internet and in legal journals, I hesitate to add to the welter of information on the subject. Temptation gets the better of me in a small way so let me remind you, shortly, that:

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