Monthly Archives: December 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas

In these last few days of December as we pass the shortest day and can begin to dream of spring, I find myself coming into a Christmas spirit of both the religious and the alcoholic variety. We are all familiar with the song The Twelve Days of Christmas with its partridge in a pear tree and its lords-a-leaping but for those who may have difficulties of recall in these Christmas party-excess fuelled times, the first verse runs:

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
A Partridge in a Pear Tree.

The second verse:

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree.

…and so forth, until the last verse:

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
12 Drummers Drumming
11 Pipers Piping
10 Lords-a-Leaping
9 Ladies Dancing
8 Maids-a-Milking
7 Swans-a-Swimming
6 Geese-a-Laying
5 Gold Rings
4 Colly Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

But what does it mean?

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Faire words butter noe parsnips

Notwithstanding my reputation [Banging on, 13th December, 2011], I am delighted to say that I do not find it easy in this season of goodwill to maintain an air of grumpiness.  Shakespeare has it that “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York.” He was talking about the man who became Richard III and there are divergent views about King Richard who Messrs Sellars and Yeatman (1066 and all that) would almost certainly have called “a bad king”.

Many people think that he was a manipulative and unprincipled devil, that he wrongfully inherited the throne and on the way murdered the Princes in the Tower or at the very least arranged for their disposal. As the only then living legitimate sons of King Edward IV and his Queen, Elizabeth Woodville, they certainly stood between him and the throne in 1483 and the elder of the two, Prince Edward, was proclaimed King as Edward V on his father’s death but disappeared before his coronation.

Much as I love this controversy this is not the time to delve into the conspiracy theories which abounded then and still reverberate in certain circles to this day (if you are interested see The Richard III Society website).

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Banging on

There are times when I can be quite as grumpy as the next man. Indeed there are acquaintances (in the circumstances, I cannot call them friends) who think I have perfected the art. All I know is that there are people who wish to tell anyone who is listening what they had for breakfast and many other fascinating details of their daily life, and that does not appeal to me at all.

So I will not tell you about my recent train journey to Liverpool courtesy of Sir Richard’s Virgin Pendolino trains where, at a totally unscheduled stop in Crewe which was going to make us late in any event, the train came to a grinding halt and the “train manager” (whatever happened to the guard?) announced a complete loss of power and urged anyone in the disabled loo not to panic when the doors failed to open!

35 minutes later, power was mysteriously restored and we arrived some 45 minutes late into Lime Street to find there were no taxis. I promised not to tell you about all this but instead of being grumpy I found the extra time useful to catch up on some reading and to reflect on the end of 2011.

Will it go out with a bang or a whimper? I have already posted some predictions for 2012 [Old Holloway’s Almanack, 1st December, 2011] and the time will doubtless arrive to review 2011 but I find myself curiously optimistic. Just as well I was not in the loo when the train stopped as my mood would have been somewhat different once released. Continue reading

In the race to modernity, technology rules

If you thought that this blog was in danger of a takeover by judicial pronouncements from the USA, here is a short reminder of some recent stories from the UK.

In the race to modernity, the Supreme Court seems likely to allow advocates to dispense with court clothes. Whether this means that lawyers can appear in a collarless shirt and no tie or in Lycra and trainers, we will have to wait and see, but I predict a few arguments before the Bar (and it still is largely the Bar) are allowed to turn up dressed at will. The last case I listened to in the Supreme Court concerned the liberty of the subject and a proposed extradition to the United States to stand trial. I am not sure the applicant would have felt he had had his full deserts if his counsel had been in cords and trainers.

The Attorney-General has been given leave to bring contempt proceedings against the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror over their coverage of the Milly Dowler trial and the conviction of Levi Bellfield. Coming hot on the heels of the harrowing testimony from Milly’s parents and others at the Leveson Inquiry, the decision to take action against the two newspapers ensures that we will not have heard the last of this subject for some time to come. In the circumstances, I think this is probably no bad thing as matters like this tend to be forgotten too easily. I wonder how they will collect all the electronic material which undoubtedly exists. Presumably, the lawyers concerned have already formulated their strategy. It is never too early to do so as decisions made at this preliminary stage can set the tone for the conduct of the case in the future.

Lord Justice Jackson is also back in the news. His reforms to civil justice are currently making their way through Parliament in the form of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill. This seems to be a strange title for the vehicle to make changes to the CPR but its contents, should they become law next year, may be viewed in due course as truly modern and even revolutionary.

The Lawyer of November 23rd 2011 carried an article entitled “Get used to it” setting out the proposals made by Lord Justice Jackson which are at the heart of these reforms. It seems to me that in order to deliver the regime to assist litigants to save money and to ensure judges have the tools properly to manage the cases for which they are responsible, technology will play a large part.

In that sense technology will truly rule, in the rush to modernity.

Pandora’s box

Lovers of Greek mythology will be familiar with the story of Pandora, whose curiosity ensured that she opened the box given to her by Zeus with instructions that she should on no account open it. When she did, evil escaped around the world and although she tried her best to get the lid back on, everything inside escaped except Hope.

Rest assured that references to Pandora’s box and Ancient Greece are not intended as a prelude to commentary on the dire state of the Greek and other Eurozone countries (and others like our own which are directly affected by the mess the over-confident Europhiles have made of the economy of the once prosperous Western world).

No, my purpose is to praise the ever colourful language of our American cousins sitting in their courtrooms around the USA, who, while dealing with a variety of cases which might just as well be heard in any court in this country, ever delight in a word or turn of phrase which while slightly out of the ordinary, serve when used by US Judges to underline the truths we should come to accept as the norm here in this jurisdiction. Continue reading

Old Holloway’s Almanack 2012

Predicting the future is a mug’s game! However, it is fun, so here are my 5 predictions for 2012, in no particular order:

  1. Whether you call it inshoring, outshoring, outsourcing, northshoring or just stick with legal process outsourcing or LPO, it is likely that the process will continue to be in the news in 2012. There is so much difference between the rates of pay of a lawyer in Manila, Bangalore and Cape Town on the one hand and London or New York on the other that Managing Partners are bound to sit up and take notice. Add Belfast, Middlesbrough or Tunbridge Wells to the mix and Managing Partners are likely to find the whole concept irresistible. However, what happens if things go wrong? Examples might include that the quoted cost is not all inclusive of the benefits which have to be paid on top of salary in other jurisdictions, or that the quality is not as expected. English language skills may not be up to the expected standards and fluency may be way off. While accepting the benefits of outsourcing, 2012 may well be the year of a high profile instance of something coming badly unstuck. Continue reading