Sunday, 29 April 2007

Charter of the Forest

Publawyer's Sunday got off to a fairly slow start, but he heard a fascinating programme on Radio 4, 'The Things We Forgot To Remember', on the relationship between the Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest. It's a good overview in 30 minutes and Michael Portillo continues to surprise as a very decent presenter. Publawyer enjoyed hearing an array of historians saying the phrase "common people", but can't help but feel that they missed a trick by not getting Jarvis Cocker involved, but nonetheless he was left raring to go. No, really.

As far as I know it isn't included in most statute collections, but there is a translation of the Charter on the St John's College website.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Page 3 Law Reporting

Publawyer promised to try and tackle some of the more misinformed reports of law and from yesterday's London Lite came this gem: "Theme Park's ad for a Fat Controller banned". I can't find the original online, but the Daily Mail version is here. If you actually take the time to read the article, which most of the commenters don't appear to have done, then you discover that the advertisement wasn't 'banned' at all. Instead Drusillas Park simply received legal advice that they might have to interview a thin man if one applied. Now the advert states that candidates "must look and act the part". Hmm, big fat difference. Ok, it's hardly the worst example of law in the press, but the whole manner of it irked me, not least in the way that the advice of an unnamed lawyer (a human resources adviser according to the Telegraph) is in fact the Law, without any effort to back this up with any authorities.

Just a random couple of other accounts here and here.

"Something is happening here, but you don't know what is, do you, Mister Jones?"

Friday, 27 April 2007

Information to become less free?

Publawyer notes from the Guardian that a debate on David Maclean's Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill is to be delayed to 18th May. It has been suggested that this a strategic move in order to help pass the Bill. Publawyer will be watching this one with interest - he thinks freedom of information is generally a Good Thing and has yet to be convinced of the merits of this Bill. It remains to be seen whether this delaying tactic will be succesful. Apparently this is an altogether better way of achieving a goal through Machiavellian machinations.

Much more about the Bill (including an interesting briefing paper) here.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Protest votes

As the polling booths prepare to close (and probably will have done so by the time I finish this) I thought it was time to make good on my promise to flag up the Protest Vote Party. They are standing in two wards in the Brighton & Hove City Council elections and promise that if elected they will immediately stand down as a, well, protest against the modern political system. What happens if they do stand down? Well, there will be a by-election, which will apparently be on 14th June. I think it's fair to consider the cost to the public purse of this, especially when one of their main gripes is the waste of public resources. If they win and then stand down and the other parties subsequently submit the same candidates they have promised to stand against that party's leader at the next General Election.

All of this raises some intriguing questions. What happens if they don't stand down? Could it all be a cunning ruse to grab power on the South coast? Is this just a silly stunt, a satire on voter alienation or a convincing protest designed to reengage mainstream political parties with local issues? Only if it really reaches a wide audience can it be said to be the latter otherwise it's just a waste of time. However, it has to be said that some of the behaviour they describe is very poor and has apparently been mirrored in Publawyer's local council. Perhaps a Code of Civility for Councillors is in order. Regardless, I'm all for democratic accountability and if the whole thing does make one or two councillors improve their performance in office then it will have achieved something noteworthy.

My personal favourite of this type of thing is Michael Moore's ficus plant. You could probably also do worse than check out Richard Pryor in 'Brewster's Millions'.

In other news the latest (and probably last) installment in the OK! v Hello! saga was decided yesterday. I'm sure far more qualified commentators than I will have plenty to say about this, but as a self-professed king of the indie boys in his heyday Publawyer was delighted to note the mention of Oasis (twice!) in Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe's speech.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

In which Publawyer introduces himself and wonders whether he should continue to refer to himself in the third person

Firstly, does the world need another blawg? I was initially suspicious of blogs, partly because they just seemed to be a platform for the very most self-opinionated to rant on and on, and partly because the word 'blog' seems so inelegant. It's fair to say that I still am fairly suspicious of most of them, but have found some of the legal blogs, or blawgs, to be very useful and interesting, which led me to consider whether I had anything worthwhile to contribute, rather than just lurking. This was also spurred on by Pupilblogger's retirement announcement. As I had found Pupilblog to be one of the best reads among all the blogs I wanted to even up the balance. Thankfully Pupilblogger appears to be still posting, for the time being at least, but I still think it could be time for me to jump in. Or maybe not, you can be the judge of that.

However, I didn't want to just launch something aimlessly, especially as there is apparently a blog born every half second although on checking this I find that it's actually now slowed down to a new blog about every 0.72 seconds. I want whatever I produce to have some value, so Publawyer was born.

To backtrack slightly, the good blawgs seem to split roughly into two categories (this a huge generalisation, but bear with me). Firstly, there are the 'experience' ones, like Pupilblog and Baby Barista. I doubt that most of my legal experiences will be of much interest to anyone, but I might slip some in along the way. No, I have decided to join the second group, those revolving around a particular area of law. While it has been discussed elsewhere that these tend to attract less interest than the first group that will probably suit me, at least while getting this off the ground. The particular area that I wish to focus on is (broadly) public law - which is half of the reason behind the rather feeble pun in the title. I know that Head of Legal covers much of this area, but hopefully I can approach things from a different angle so that there is room for both in the (ugh) blogosphere.

The other motivation is to address some of the legal issues that people often bring up in pubs (not that I spend too much time in them, you understand, it's purely for research purposes), which should also definitively explain away this blog's title. You know the ones I mean, someone demonstrates that the law is an ass by highlighting an absurdity from that day's Metro and I can only ever think up a decent response on the tube several hours later. Well now there's a space for these responses.

Now Publawyer must away to find an issue to pontificate on, but before that Publawyer wishes to leave you with some bastardised Shakespeare:

"Cry havoc and let slip the blogs of law."