Monday, 29 October 2007


The Telegraph has this unusual story.

Besides the obvious snap reaction, which is, "what the hell? How is that even possible?" I can't help but feel rather sorry for the poor chap. Getting placed on the sex offenders' register seems a little harsh considering the guy was in the privacy of his own hotel room (pavements are a different matter).

If you've read the (quality literature) that is Hotel Babylon, it would also appear that the hotel staff behaved in a somewhat gauche manner - if the staff at 5 star London hotels have to put up with being propositioned for sex and invited into the rooms of enthusiastic exhibitionists, surely these guys could have overlooked a bit of human-bicycle sex? (once again: How is that possible??)

Then again, perhaps the fact that you're paying exorbitant sums to stay in 5 star London hotels also means that the hotel staff won't call the police on you and land you with a conviction for "a sexual offence involving an inanimate object?"

Monday, 15 October 2007

Great headline

I was reading the great commentary provided by thelondonpaper (snort) on the Tube and couldn't resist reproducing their headline...


The story's here.

Quoth the BBC:
"Handing down his judgement, Mr Justice Henderson said Mr Kostic would not have left the money to the Tories if he had been "of sound mind". "
Oh, I know, I've taken that quote slightly out of context, but it did provoke a wry smile when I read it.

I have to say that if I were looking for someone to save me from satanic monsters and freaks, the Tories definitely wouldn't be number one on my list.

Curiouser and curiouser...

...some details have been slightly altered in this post.

In order to make proper sense of the very strange experience I had in the library today, I need to take you back to January 2007.

I'm sitting in a cafe at uni with my friend, taking notes on cases. I'm concentrating pretty hard (unusual but welcomed) and I have a textbook sitting on the table at my side.

Suddenly, a guy that I do not know, who shall be henceforth referred to as Stalker (you can already see where this is going, right?) chimes in, "So that textbook's written by AuthorName." Startled, I look at the textbook. It is (unsurprisingly) written by AuthorName. This isn't the greatest intellectual observation of the century, given that AuthorName is emblazoned across the front of the book.

"Yeeeesss..." I say, grudgingly, given that I'm trying to do my reading and it is pretty rude to interrupt someone who is obviously otherwise engaged.

"Is AuthorName Irish?" asks Stalker.

"I'm sorry, I haven't a clue," I say politely.

Stalker starts talking about how interesting the subject is. I start looking at my watch and calculating that a) I only have 20 minutes left to finish off these cases and b) Stalker is starting to irritate me.

So I pull the Rudeness Card on Stalker.

"Look, I'm really sorry, but I'm trying to concentrate on this reading and get it finished before closing time here." I say, interrupting him in mid-sentence.

Stalker looks taken aback and makes some half-hearted witticism about students, libraries and cafes. And goes away.

* * *

It's April and I'm in the common room, probably to revise. I even have the same textbook with me. I look up from checking my email and freeze. Stalker! Stalker comes across to me. "Do you do Law?" he asks.

Shit. Well, the only other option I have, given the common room I'm in, is Accounting and Finance, and I don't think Accounting and Finance students read law textbooks. "Yes." I venture.

Stalker seems to remember our unfriendly meeting in the cafe earlier that year. He asks me my name. I tell him, instantly regret it, and spend the next five minutes after he finally stops asking me questions and goes away restricting my facebook privacy settings to maximum.

* * *

I'm walking out of a building at uni, sometime close to exams. Someone holds the door open for me. Guess who?! Stalker looks at me and says, "I've met you before, (my name)?"


* * *

So, we're back in the present and I have all but forgotten about Stalker. What are the chances he'd be around this year, right? I wasn't even sure he was connected to my uni at all.

I'm in the library checking my email and replying to stuff related to this moot. Someone says, "Oh, you're doing MootName?" I look at the person sitting next to me. Shit!! Not only is it Stalker, but he is actually reading my email over my shoulder!

Now, talking to somebody who's obviously busy doing something is rude, but perhaps forgivable. Reading somebody's email over their shoulder? Not cool. Not cool at all.

Stalker managed to completely poleaxe me this time, so I actually replied to him. During our conversation, which I shan't bother to paraphrase, I learnt the following interesting tidbits.

- Stalker (supposedly) does research for Eminent Professor who I much admire.
- Stalker (supposedly) is teaching a class in a subject I have taken in the past.
- Stalker (supposedly) has had some involvement with MootName that I am involved with this year.
- Stalker (probably..this is my own conclusion) is a Ph.D student.

But! The plot thickens.

Stalker says he has been involved with MootName at my uni in the relatively recent past. But I know for a fact that a team has only been entered in the last two years, in the six years prior to that there was no team! So unless he is talking about a different uni, which it didn't sound like he was, this can't be true.

Stalker suggested that he was teaching a class this year, which is plausible, only I checked the timetables and I can't find anyone teaching those classes who might be Stalker - Stalker is male and I know both the guys who teach classes in that subject.

Stalker didn't know how to access past exam papers. Doesn't that sound like something that someone who is teaching classes should be able to do?

But Stalker must be involved with the uni because he has a username and password to use uni computers.

What can I hypothesise?

  • Stalker is a Ph.D student but he is lying or exaggerating when he talks to me.

There is definitely something very weird about this guy and I am normally a pretty astute judge of character.

What further conclusions can be drawn if this hypothesis is proved correct?

  • Stalker is (totally hamfistedly) trying to hit on me.

In fact, I'm almost sure of it. Problem is, Stalker is pretty darn persistent with his questions, I have already used the Rudeness Card once (and I'm not an absolute bitch, I don't like doing it) and he doesn't seem to take the hint.

If on the offchance you are Stalker, please note: I really am not interested. You appear to be socially inept. I have already concluded that you are very weird. Please go away and stop trying to talk to me. You are not my type in this universe or the next.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Judge's death remains a mystery

The cause of death in the recent inquest concerning a judge who died following an explosion in his garden shed was found to be "unascertained", the BBC reports today. A few blawgs have been following this inquest - which certainly has an unusual set of facts. See Charon QC for prior comment on this. It's got it all - alleged blackmail, alleged coercion, adultery, abortions, a mysterious death...

Sod's Law

How is it that I end up in the Competition Law class that contains

a) only two people I know, and one is;
b) the Nameless Law Student who we had to kick out of last year's mooting team because they failed to prepare their written submissions and left us stuck in the library until midnight freaking out because we had to write about 2,000 words of properly researched & referenced text in about 4 hours.

I'm not normally disposed towards freakouts, but that day was so stressful I couldn't even send the email with the submissions attached because my hands were shaking as if I had Parkinson's. At precisely 11.59pm. The penalty for late submission is severe.

I know I should be all gracious and live and let live and all, but it still grates!

(makes mental note to tell this year's team that our deadline will be well before Christmas)

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Innocent or guilty - before anything is proven

Yes, it's another post about the Madeleine McCann saga, so if you are now heartily sick of discussion on the matter please avert your eyes and press the back button on your browser.

I don't mean to belittle what is obviously a terrible human tragedy as far as the little girl is concerned - more the way that coverage has been handled on the matter. Scarcely a day goes by without coverage of the matter - and this wouldn't even be a bad thing if the coverage wasn't so clunkingly awful. Even the broadsheets are weighing in on the are they/aren't they guilty debate with some spectacularly ill-advised pieces.

A strange thing seems to happen when people have been in the public eye for some time. Suddenly media and public alike feel they have the authority to comment on their character, their actions - and now, seemingly, their guilt or innocence.

Of course this isn't the first time this has happened, not by far; the trial of Michael Jackson over child abuse charges a few years ago was a particularly good example. "He's guilty," people would say authoritatively, with a level of conviction that would suggest they had witnessed a crime with their own eyes. On the other side, those who passionately believed in his innocence. "Oh no, he could never do a thing like that," they would say in horror. How do you know? How do you have any idea what somebody you have never met, will never meet and only know because of their public profile is capable of?

The same is happening for the McCanns. You only have to scroll down to the comments section following any Maddie article online to see people declaring their faith in the McCanns' innocence, or, alternatively, levels of hatefulness that are unpleasant to read. Whilst I don't have any view on the McCanns' innocence or otherwise - and am actively trying to avoid forming one - these people seem to have no problem in spewing vitriol and attaching the word "murderers" to two individuals who have not been convicted of any offence and as yet are not even charged with an offence. The "innocent" camp, whilst still (in my view) misguided, at least are demonstrating some sort of faith in human nature.

So who facilitates this unpleasant polarisation of public opinion? Who invites people to speculate on guilt or innocence? Fingers, naturally, point to the media, who respond along the lines of, "oh, but there's such a huge public demand for Madeleine McCann coverage that we are simply compelled to provide it." Fair enough - to a point. The initial interest in the case has gathered such momentum that media outlets naturally want to take advantage of it - I'm not disputing that, it makes good economic sense for them. What I am disputing is the assertion that "we're providing what people want to hear" somehow excuses shoddy reporting. People would probably like to hear that the Government is going to abolish income tax. Nevertheless, it would be ridiculous to report that it might happen because there is no factual basis for the assertion - much of the coverage of the Madeleine saga is wildly speculative and has no factual basis (at least none that can be currently verified).

This sort of irresponsible reporting encourages people to turn into amateur detectives and make all sorts of knowing comments about the events on the night that Madeleine disappeared. But this is not Cluedo. It's not Kate McCann in the tapas bar with the sedatives because this is real life, and in real life we (society in general) are supposed to cherish the principle that one is innocent until proven guilty. Really? In that case, reading some of the coverage of this case leaves me with the unpleasant impression that the McCanns have already been tried and found guilty - without ever setting foot in a courtroom.

Back in the swing of things

Sorry I haven't been posting over the summer - I wanted to keep this blog relatively focused on law and legal issues and as I've been off enjoying the carefree and hedonistic life of a student over summer vacation (please note there is a smidgen of sarcasm in the above) I haven't updated (actually I was busy getting fitness industry qualifications and being temporarily homeless).

So, university has restarted and I've already used up a small forest's worth of paper in printouts. It's odd how some classes are so heavy with reading and others less so, yet they generally all boil down to a three hour exam at the end of the year. In case you're wondering, this year's options are International Protection of Human Rights, Jurisprudence (compulsory), Intellectual Property Law and Competition Law. I decided that Advanced Torts wasn't really going to add anything and doing an outside option was a bit of a cop-out.

I got called for jury service over the summer - as did a lot of people I know, oddly, but they seem to have lost track of me seeing as I moved over the summer and am now in a different electoral district. The system doesn't seem very well suited to dealing with transient people like students; it's odd that they haven't taken steps to doing some sort of Internet-based response rather than getting you to mail the form back to them. I asked for a deferral but didn't hear anything back (I think because I moved and not all the mail got forwarded) - probably I should chase that up. Perhaps there is a warrant for my arrest out this very second (!!).

I'm busy putting together a team for an external moot right now - the same one as I did last year - and am holding tryouts next week. I've given the poor sods a little "assignment" - doesn't seem to have put anybody off as I have about 12 people interested in 3 places in the team. I'll probably post more about this as the team develops - not too much as it'll probably violate the anonymity rule if I do - but just general stuff about mooting.

Anyway, that's the catchup, I'll get back to writing something of substance in the coming days and weeks.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Course choices

I should be making next year's course choices round about now. I'm not sure how important these really are in terms of future employment; I guess it's helpful to have a demonstrable interest in a certain area of the law if you hope to go on and practice it, but given that most chambers tend to discourage early specialisation I doubt it helps to go in with blinkers on.

I still have one compulsory element to complete, which is Jurisprudence, and which I am really looking forward to as I tend to enjoy the theoretical stuff. I'm flirting with the idea of an outside option - Gender and Society - I'm planning on hitting up the human rights chambers so I don't think it will be too difficult if I'm asked why I took this course rather than a Law option. Helena Kennedy thought it was important, anyway (Eve was Framed is an excellent book and one which I highly recommend reading).

As for the rest? One definite is International Protection of Human Rights. The fourth is the one I'm undecided on - choices are Advanced Torts, Commercial Contracts or Competition Law. Advanced Torts is the one which is the most immediately appealing to me, but I probably shouldn't choose courses on their gore and drama potential. There is also the consideration that I would like a decent clutch of firsts next year and don't want to choose courses which will make that tricky. Conundrum!

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Internships ahoy

It is summertime at the moment (though you would be forgiven for disputing this, given that enough rain has fallen over the last few months to turn my feet webbed).

Many people seem to share a fond view that students spend their entire holidays ensuring that their overdrafts are well and truly maxed out, lazing around, getting on their parents' nerves, allowing their blood alcohol levels to return to normal after the excesses of end of term parties and spending an inordinate amount of time on social networking sites aimlessly clicking.

I have to admit that sounds like a beautiful idea, but unfortunately for many wannabe lawyers, the necessary evils of internships and mini-pupillages will intrude upon this idyllic sloth. Most of my friends who plan on becoming solicitors have already spent countless hours doing online applications and traipsing to interviews - now these efforts have been rewarded by places on vacation schemes and the chance to work for what is probably less than Minimum Wage, given that most of them won't see daylight for the duration of their vacation schemes and will stumble, bleary-eyed and midnight-tanned, out into the dazzling sunshine pouring rain at the end of it all. It's worth it for them. It's a foot in the door, and some of them will be rewarded with the offer of training contracts.

In contrast, the mini-pupillage doesn't really play the same pivotal role that vac schemes do for solicitors. I must admit to feeling rather smug, watching my beleaguered friends fill out application after application at the beginning of the Lent term - most mini-pupillage applications require minimal amounts of paperwork. This smugness was probably ill-founded, considering I'll probably be living in a garret, eating 22p bread from Tesco with "value" jam and burning pages from old textbooks to keep me warm whilst they're all getting sloshed in Canary Wharf courtesy of the money advanced to them to cover their LPC.

It's possible that an early offer of pupillage will arrive; I'd prefer not to hedge my bets at this stage. At any rate, it has certainly been brought home how much more certainty is afforded by the vac scheme system (unless you don't get offered a training contract at the end of your vac scheme, in which case I warmly invite you to share my future garret- as long as you bring your own bread). Mini-pupillages offer many things; a chance to scope out prospective chambers; an increased understanding of the (sometimes arcane) world of the Bar. The list goes on. But at the end of the day, nobody is going to turn round and say, "You know what? You made tea so beautifully. Your photocopying was exquisite. We would love to offer you a pupillage."

For me, the days spent researching, filling out applications and preparing for interviews - they haven't been avoided. They'll just come at a slightly later date, whilst some of my wannabe (gonnabe?) solicitor friends will be able to sit back and enjoy the rest of their summer knowing that they have secured a training contract and can now commence full scale slothfulness. Lucky buggers.