Archive for February, 2013

Fine print to consider when taking out financial products

What with record low interest rates and the burn of inflation making it even more painful, recent years have left many people in real difficulties as to where to their hard-earned savings. Everything seems to have risk, from government and corporate bonds through to shares and property. Even cash has the risk of its value being inflated away each year. In such circumstances it’s perhaps more essential than ever that wherever you choose to put your money you make sure that you take account of all the associated fine print.

If it is a cash isa for example this might include, among other things, checking that the account is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if this is something that concerns you. So, too, you might need to check whether there are minimum or maximum amounts associated with particular interest rates and whether there is a fixed term associated with a particular account.

Remember that although standard terms and conditions might sometimes looks incomprehensible at first glance, there does tend to be a reason for each of them. So maybe start with the headline points and then delve a little deeper into the detail. Above all, don’t be afraid to investigate further and ask questions if you’re at all unsure.

February 28, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Book Recommendation: The Strange Laws Of Old England

A fun and fascinating tour of the by-ways of British legal history. Did you know that the law requiring a London taxi driver to carry a bale of hay on top of his cab to feed the horse was in force until 1976? Or that Welshmen are not allowed in the city of Chester after dark? Nigel Cawthorne has unearthed an extraordinary (and sometimes hilarious) collection of the most bizarre and arcane laws that have been enacted over the centuries. Some of which, incredibly are still in force! It is still illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour.

Available from Amazon 

February 27, 2013 · babybarista · Comments Closed
Posted in: books

Lie detectors in court

“It’s so easy to know when a witness is lying,” said HeadofChambers today. “There’s always a tell, whether it’s the scratching of the nose or a particular turn of phrase. Whatever it is, you just know.”

“The problem is that twitches and other foibles are also committed by honest people overly nervous about being misconstrued,” said BusyBody.

“And that’s where we make our bread and butter,” said Teflon.

“I have to admit that I’ve always found it impossible to know whether people are telling the truth or not,” said TheCreep in a rare show of honesty.

“Most of all, your own client,” added BusyBody.

“Which thankfully is not our job,” smiled TheVamp.

“Well I think we should introduce lie detectors into the court system,” said OldSmoothie. “Have it sitting there alongside each witness as they give evidence.”

“Reminds me of that scene in ‘Meet the Parents’ in which Robert de Niro’s character forces a lie detector on that of Ben Stiller,” said TheBusker.

“But surely the best lie detectors ever invented are judges?” said TheCreep reverting to type.

“Really?” said BusyBody. “If you were specifically picking people who could spot a lie, the very last people you’d have would be the unworldly academic types who often make it to judicial office.”

“But a lie detector?” said UpTights. “Stinks of Big Brother if you ask me.”

“And aren’t they all completely unreliable in any event?” said TheVamp.

“Yes, the lawyers would have a field-day with appeals,” said BusyBody.

“What? Are you suggesting that creating more work for lawyers is in someway a downside?” smiled OldSmoothie. “In my view that’s the single best reason in favour of their introduction.”

“Imagine if there was a lie detector that was perfect in every way,” mused OldRuin.

“Yes, imagine that,” said BusyBody. “Everyone would then be forced to be honest.”

“And lawyers would be needed no more,” said TheBusker.

BabyBarista is a fictional account of a junior barrister written by Tim Kevan whose new novel is Law and Peace. For more information and to read past posts visit babybarista.com. Cartoons by Alex Williams, author of 101 Ways to Leave the Law.

February 25, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Monday morning with Alex Williams’ cartoons, 25th February 2013

This cartoon is by Alex Williams who draws the Queen’s Counsel cartoons for The Times and in numerous books including Lawyers Uncovered. He also does the cartoons for BabyBarista and has had two more excellent books published recently: 101 Ways to Leave the Law and 101 Uses for a Useless Banker. He offers almost all of his cartoons for sale at £120 for originals and £40 for copies and they can be obtained from this email info@qccartoon.com.

February 25, 2013 · babybarista · Comments Closed
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Pupil protest

“Have you heard that one of the pupils has made a complaint about OldSmoothie to the Bar Standards Board?” said TheVamp today.

“What on earth for?” said HeadofChambers.

“The possibilities are endless,” said BusyBody. “Sexual harrassment might be a starter.”

“Actually, she’s not complaining about his lechery,” said TheVamp. “Her line is that she’d have had to put up with that in other jobs too.”

“Not quite on the OldSmoothie scale, though,” said BusyBody. “So what’s even worse than his continual barrage of innuendo and general dirty old man leering?”

“She’s made a complaint that she has to do excessive amounts of photocopying and coffee-making,” said TheVamp.

“What?” said Teflon incredulously. “That’s what pupillage is for.”

“I know!” she replied. “That was my reaction too. She claims it is demeaning for someone of her great intellectual capacity to be doing such menial labour.”

“That’ll go down well with her tenancy application,” said HeadofChambers before adding a little nervously, “Not that we’d be taking it into account in any shape or form whatsoever.”

“Naturally,” said TheVamp.

But HeadofChambers couldn’t contain his indignation. “Though clearly if people know about it then they may well find it extremely difficult to dismiss entirely from their minds.”

“And that’s before word spreads to other chambers,” said UpTights. “Anyway, what’s she getting so high and mighty about? It’s no different to doing articles at a solicitors office.”

“Well so far she says that in over six months of pupillage she has been asked to do only three pieces of legal work and they were for other members of chambers,” said TheVamp.

“But isn’t she now getting her own cases?” asked TheBusker.

“No, that’s just the problem,” said TheVamp. “HeadClerk knows what OldSmoothie’s like. But he’s furious that the pupil didn’t just bite her tongue and get on with it like the rest of us had to in the past.”

“Don’t you just love the fact that the reality of the so-called rigorous selection process for tenancy is whether or not we can put up with bullying, hectoring and generally demeaning behaviour from our pupilmasters,” said BusyBody. “I mean, what use in the world is that?”

“I think you’ll find that it’s rather good practise for dealing with judges,” smiled TheBusker.

BabyBarista is a fictional account of a junior barrister written by Tim Kevan whose new novel is Law and Peace. For more information and to read past posts visit babybarista.com. Cartoons by Alex Williams, author of 101 Ways to Leave the Law.

February 24, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Weekend Video: What If money didn’t matter?.. – Alan Watts

February 23, 2013 · babybarista · Comments Closed
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Never forget that lawyers aren’t paid to be liked with @theiclr

Brought to you with the support of our friends at The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting

“Is nothing sacred these days?” said UpTights.
“What are you moaning on about now?” said OldSmoothie.
“Once upon a time institutions were respected but in the last few years it seems like it’s all gone to pot. First, we find out that a fair proportion of our politicians were on the make at the public’s expense…”
“That can hardly have come as a surprise when you’ve er, been courted by several members of parliament over the years,” said OldSmoothie.
“Maybe not,” said UpTights ingoring the jibe, “but that was only the start of it. Then we had the bankers fixing the markets…”
“…when they weren’t mis-selling insurance,” said BusyBody.
“And journalists getting up to all sorts of shenanigans,” continued UpTights, “and now we even have hospital care under the microscope. I mean, where is it all going to end?”
“What concerns me most in that regard,” said OldSmoothie, “is that the status of the legal profession might actually be rising off the very bottom of the sea bed if we’re not careful.”
“What’s the problem with that?” said TheCreep.
“Listen, young man,” said OldSmoothie. “Never fall under the misapprehension that people page huge fees to come and get the benefit of your time because they like you or think you’re a nice person. Never, ever forget that you’re not paid to be liked. On the contrary, people usually come to a lawyer because they want you to do their dirty work and frankly, you don’t often ask people you like to do your dirty work.”
“I’ve always thought there was something refreshingly honest about lawyers and their lack of pretension about how the rest of society views them,” said TheBusker. “I couldn’t see doctors or architects revelling in cruel jokes about their own profession the way we do about our own.”
“Which of course means that whilst people might not always like us, we can rarely be accused of hypocrisy,” said HeadofChambers.
“Well, that’s an optimistic way of looking at it,” said BusyBody.
“Of course, with even the great and the good being brought to their knees, there’s one British institution which always remain unimpeachable,” said OldRuin.
“The royal family?” said TheCreep.
“Hardly,” said BusyBody.
“No, by that I am of course referring to the supplier of our official law reports, The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting.” A general murmur of consent followed before OldRuin added, “They’ve even managed to move with the times with the ICLR online.”
HeadClerk clapped his hands and said, “Well, if OldSmoothie’s right and the profession really does rest on its bad boy image then I think you’d better all stop drinking your very refined little cups of tea and get yourselves out into the wine bars drumming up some real work.”
“Business as usual then,” smiled TheBusker.

February 20, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: ICLR

Book Recommendation: Into The Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest

‘The price of life is death’

For Mallory, as for all of his generation, death was but ‘a frail barrier that men crossed, smiling and gallant, every day’. As climbers they accepted a degree of risk unimaginable before the war. What mattered now was how one lived, and the moments of being alive.

While the quest for Mount Everest may have begun as a grand imperial gesture, it ended as a mission of revival for a country and a lost generation bled white by war. In a monumental work of history and adventure, Davis asks not whether George Mallory was the first to reach the summit of Everest, but rather why he kept climbing on that fateful day.

Available from Amazon

February 20, 2013 · babybarista · Comments Closed
Posted in: books

Monday morning with Alex Williams’ cartoons, 18th February 2013

This cartoon is by Alex Williams who draws the Queen’s Counsel cartoons for The Times and in numerous books including Lawyers Uncovered. He also does the cartoons for BabyBarista and has had two more excellent books published recently: 101 Ways to Leave the Law and 101 Uses for a Useless Banker. He offers almost all of his cartoons for sale at £120 for originals and £40 for copies and they can be obtained from this email info@qccartoon.com.

February 18, 2013 · babybarista · Comments Closed
Posted in: Uncategorized

‘Tales from the Courtroom’ by Brian Harris QC

After some two decades labouring in the gardens of regulation and professional conduct Brian Harris QC retired to quieter pastures and took to the pen. The result has been a stream of books of historico/legal fascination. The latest, entitled Tales from the Courtroom is now available on Amazon, which describes it thus:

‘Court-room dramas hold an endless fascination, but they are often a pale shadow of the real thing. Consider for example the case of the young man who, after being acquitted of his girlfriend’s murder, was challenged by the dead girl’s brother in a procedure which had not been used since the middle ages. It failed, but the facts of the case were recalled over a century later by another tragedy, which eerily mirrored them. Or the case of the vicar’s son convicted of cattle mutilation who was cleared, not as a result of diligent police work, but by the creator of England’s most famous fictional detective. This book contains a number of ‘unsolved mysteries’, like the murder of a magistrate which nearly ended the career, even the life, of Samuel Pepys. Other curiosities concern the quaint rules by which pirates were once bound and Parliament’s continuing concern for outlaws’ rights. Even the foggier crannies of the law can offer up their amusements, like the rhyming will which was put up for probate and the extraordinary story of how the law of cremation was reformed by an eccentric Welsh doctor and a Hindu ex-soldier. Told by a retired barrister, the tales in this book illustrate the role of the law in resisting oppression, whether from robber barons or modern governments. Selected for their intrinsic interest, the tales highlight lessons concerning the nature of justice and the diversity – sometimes the unknowability – of human conduct.’

If the reviews of his earlier works are anything to go by Tales from the Courtroom should be a fine bedside read for the tired lawyer and a welcome present for the law student.

 

February 17, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: Uncategorized