Monday, 29 December 2008

M is for mendacity

Mendacity - n - the tendency to be untruthful

"Yes, the present was just perfect, exactly what I wanted", Barmaid uttered mendaciously.

Today I have drafted a Particulars of Claim and it actually went quite well, which usually means that I've completely misunderstood the requirements of the exercise and have messed up big style. Curiously the study pack literature states that for claims in negligence, the Claimant's date of birth must be included in the Particulars of Claim, but none have been provided by my provider? There are also no details of claim number or which court the case is to be heard, which makes it all a bit of a farce. I just made something up - nowt new there then:-)

I've been practising my advocacy and feel more than a little uncomfortable with my first stab at Civil Litigation. Barman yawned 3 times whilst I was going through it with him, so I guess it is just as I thought, dull and unimaginative, but it's difficult to set the world on fire when it's just an application for more time to serve a defence.

Yesterday I finally managed to complete this month's Criminal Litigation homework, but I'm uncertain that I've conquered the subject and had to guess the answers to several of the questions. I really thought that Criminal Litigation would be relatively easy for me, but it is turning out to be a bit of a nightmare and it is Civil Litigation that is easier to digest. We only have one more lot of Civil and Criminal Litigation homework before the MCT exam at the end of February and at this point in time, I feel ill prepared. Oh well, perhaps I'll have a eureka moment before the exam.

I have another study weekend looming and simply can't wait to receive the results from the Legal Research mock *cough*. Unfortunately we have an SGS to go through the papers, which means public humiliation for me, I'd rather forget all about it and move on. I'm also eagerly awaiting the 'proper' Legal Research exam handouts which we receive this weekend, to hand in at the end of January. Apparently 8 out of 10 BVC students fail first time, so at least I won't be lonely on the naughty step. Just please, not another negligence paper, I'm negligenced up to the ears.

My pro bono has been sadly neglected of late, so I'm determined to make more time in the New Year to make amends and put aside at least 2 days a month for that. I've yet to do any dining and will certainly have to get my finger out on that side of things too, but it's not easy when living at 'the back of beyond' and having to travel to London for everything. I've promised to take my best friend and sister-in-law along to a guest night, so plan to get something booked after Christmas. Best friend is rather loud at the best of times and even more so when nervous or drunk, which will probably result in an entertaining evening for all unfortunate enough to be sat near to our table.

I must admit to feeling quite pleased with myself with regards to ploughing through this month's homework. 3 weeks ago I was pretty certain that I wouldn't be able to get through it all, but with just Conference homework left to do, it's looking quite hopeful. A good proportion of the said homework was completed whilst under the influence and it remains to be seen whether this has enhanced my academic skills or not, but I'm quietly confident that it has:-)

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone

Merry Christmas

Monday, 22 December 2008

In the dog-house

"Whatever you give a woman, she will make it greater.

If you give her sperm, she'll give you a baby.

If you give her a house, she'll give you a home.

If you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal.

If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart.

She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her.

So, if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of shit."

Barman forgot our wedding anniversary, Barmaid is plotting revenge.

Perhaps a nice syrup of figs dressing to accompany Christmas dinner and replacement of those nice, soft, squashy loo rolls with 'Izal' should just about even things out.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

The letter 'L'

L is for loquacious - adj - characterized by or showing a tendancy to talk a great deal.

Bar students are renowned for their loquacity or should that be loquaciousness?

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

In my humble opinion

I have my hand in exercise for Opinion Writing to complete and it's turning out to be a long winded task. I'm stuck in liability, have yet to contemplate quantum and any sort of meaningful conclusion seems miles away. Negligence isn't my favourite subject and I'll be glad to get it out of the way and move onto something a little more interesting. I've sat on the fence so much with regards to who is liable that I've got splinter nonsitdownius.

Bar-Os is still on holiday and has decided that he will inject a little excitement into my life by:
a) shouting loudly each morning if I'm one minute late in taking him his breakfast.
b) spinning around in the stable once breakfast is over until I go back out to him and lead him out to the field.
c) refusing to stand still whilst his turnout rug (horse anorak) is put on.
d) refusing to stand still whilst I try to groom him, unless it's his legs or 'armpits' because he likes those bits doing.
e) kicking his food all over the stable because the carrots are too big and get in the way of the 'hard stuff' ie. the cereal mix.
f) lurking in the furthest parts of the field and pretending he's deaf when I go to collect him.
g) generally behaving like a spoilt brat, which of course is exactly what he is!

He will have a rude awakening in the New Year when he will be back in work. Something tells me that I also will have a rude awakening the first time my bum hits the saddle:-)

Friday, 5 December 2008

The Barristers - the end

Unlike many other law bloggers, who no doubt have more refined tastes than moi, I've enjoyed the whole series of The Barristers and particularly tonight's episode. There was a little something for everyone in this last episode, from the standard run of the mill Crown Court case right up to the House of Lords.

Iqbal re-appeared in order to be called to the bar, talk about his new job and to also appear as a litigant in person at his local County Court, which I'm pleased to say he won, not least because the embarrassment caused by losing in front of an audience no doubt consisting of 99% bar students, practising barristers and other related legal sundry would have been just too cringeworthy to contemplate.

Kakoly was put through the mill and had to justify her recent tenancy in front of her Chamber's panel, which I thought was extremely cruel given that she was at the time appearing in her first solo Crown Court trial. It's a pity that having gone through that ordeal of effectively being interviewed and accepted for tenancy twice, she couldn't have had the luxury of saying "you know what, stuff your bloody tenancy, I'm off to Much-Better Chambers around the corner, the money is better, the coffee less bitter and I won't have to pretend to actually respect and like the people I work with."

The cement case left a nasty taste in ones mouth, or perhaps that is just the dust from the said factory wafting its fumes over our homes? The campaigner is left with a £170'000 bill for the 'privilege' of having her case decided in the ultimate domestic court, rough justice indeed. It didn't show the Lords in the best of lights and no doubt the general public will wonder why our legal system is supposed to be the best in the world when challenging a public body can result in such a severe 'sentence'. I myself wonder if there is perhaps a European challenge to be had out of the case, or whether that's it for the poor woman. There really isn't much that our domestic courts can offer with regards to cheesed off residents who have to suffer the ills of inconsiderate planning consents and ignored environmental wrongs. I'm getting on my soap box with this one, so best leave it at that...

I do believe that the public will have a more 'rounded' image of what the job of a barrister entails, that's if any of them bothered to tune in of course.

Monday, 1 December 2008

'k' is for kook

Kook - n - an eccentric or foolish person

I'm sure that we all move in such exclusive, legal circles that we couldn't possibly know anyone kooky!

Thank goodness that BVC study weekend is over, got another one that looks equally as demanding next month, but it does appear that things start to calm down a little towards next Spring.

Today I've had a little look at next month's advocacy and haven't a clue what we are supposed to do? It's my first stab at civil advocacy and it is an application for an extension to file a defence. My provider seems to think that by some sort of osmosis we somehow know how to go about these things, but alas, that eureka moment just didn't happen and I'm a little confused? Do we just say our bit all in one go, or do we 'tennis match' the dialogue back and forth with the other side? I presume that the person applying for the extension goes first, but do they just have one go, or do they reply to the objections raised? Oh well, it all adds to the excitement I guess, sort of...

Thursday, 27 November 2008

'J' is for juxtapose

Juxtapose -vb- to place close together or side by side.

Juxtaposition was a favourite word of mine during LLB, I used it when trying to evade the answer to a question that I didn't quite know the answer to, eg. 'It is interesting to note the juxtaposition of case law in relation to the statutory provisions contained within the Law of Property Act 1925...'.

My war with both the White Book and Blackstone's continues and I wonder how on earth I'll remember anything at exam time? My Legal Research mock paper is hidden out of view, it really is about the worst piece of work I've put my name to so far, but I haven't had time to mess with it so I'm resigned to a fail. The Opinion Writing homework is only marginally better, but I think that given time, my skills in this subject will improve and although I was dreading it, I quite enjoyed the exercise once I got started.

No Advocacy this weekend, just a review of what we have done so far. My favourite subject to date is Advocacy, so I'm disappointed that there isn't another new exercise to perform this weekend. I enjoy Conference too and have two exercises to do this weekend, one as a defence barrister, one as a defendant.

By the looks of things the mountains of homework continues up to Christmas, with loads of reading and preparation to do and also a mock Opinion to prepare. No rest for the wicked it seems.

Friday, 21 November 2008

'I' is for involuted

Involuted - adj - Complex, intricate or involved.
This month's Criminal Litigation homework is proving to be involuted, it's all about confessions, illegally obtained evidence and so on.

I'd have thought that Criminal Litigation was right up my street, but I'm afraid to say, the Civil Litigation is much easier to digest. Criminal Litigation, although interesting, is very heavy going, lots of case law jumbled up with PACE and I find that the way information is described in Blackstone's a little too, well... involuted. I have resorted in the past to using the ICSL manual, but my provider frowns upon it and seem to go out of their way to contradict what is stated in the manual, so much for finding an easier way to study:-(

After Criminal Litigation, I have got to tackle the Opinions homework, which I haven't even looked at yet, but by the looks of things time-wise will be a last minute rush job. I was hoping to get some pro bono in next week, but it isn't looking hopeful at the moment and with only one qualifying point under my belt at the moment, I need to find time to do some Inn dining too.

I did have a BVC wobble at the beginning of the week and for a brief time contemplated packing it all in. The sheer volume of work is very depressing and unlike LLB, where precision is the key, BVC work is just a matter of throwing words down onto paper and hoping for the best, because the time restraints don't allow anything better. I reckon that we have about 1000 pages of reading per month and that figure doesn't include any research that we undertake ourselves. That's a lot of reading for a part-time course!

My Legal Research mock has been printed off and hidden out of site, it's abysmal, but I haven't got time to tweak it.

On a brighter note, Bar-Os has come home for a couple of months holiday because I haven't got time to ride at the moment. It's lovely having him home and even the mucking out each morning is ok, it gives me a break from thinking. Because it was mild last night, I left him out in the paddock until 10pm. Some bright spark who was parked up on the side of the lane thought I was a gypsy and played 'join the caravan of love' at full blast as I was leading him back to the stable. Luckily Bar-Os didn't bother too much at the sudden noise. I thought it was quite funny, but Barman was furious, very proud of his aspiring barrister missus is Barman and even more proud of his beautiful, faithful Bar-Os.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Is it just me or...?

Quite straightforward really.

Bought a nice, new garden gate off ebay and today had the simple task of arranging collection and delivery of gate. I filled in the collection and delivery addresses on the courier website, gave the dimensions and weight of the gate, clicked the calculate costs button and was promptly put through to a dogging website. Tried again, same thing. Rang the courier and told the chap what had happened, he said "no, no, no, it's not dogging, it's the web designers logo, got dog in the title". "Okay", says me, "what about the hot steamy, women on women videos hyperlink?" "Oh", he says, "Oh indeed" says I, "all I wanted was a price for delivering my garden gate!"

p.s. Bloggers, what shall I do when the gate arrives, act normal, or run outside in my dirty mac and shine my torch through the delivery van window?

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Madam, I submit that...

Another study weekend over. Despite working all hours to complete all of the homework set (well ok, 90% of it), I felt sure that I'd somehow wandered into the wrong educational institution, because I really didn't have much idea about what the hell the tutor's were talking about. This has left me feeling rather dejected on the academic side of things. I'm now even confused over the basic stuff, such as the maximum sentence (for more than one offence) that can be imposed by the Magistrates Court, which I thought was 65 weeks, but seems to be 6 months, according to our tutor. So, which figure do I go with, the one taken from Archbold Magistrates Court Practice or the tutor's?

Civil litigation was equally as confusing, which is odd, because I thought that I'd got to grips with it at home and had answered all of the questions set, but we didn't go through the homework much, so I have no idea whether my hours of study produced the right or wrong answers. We did previously unseen questions, which were ploughed through at such speed that I got lost and had to just sit there, confused and depressed.

On a brighter note, I enjoyed the first Conference class and Advocacy was really good too. No-one cares much how they do in any other class, but everyone wants to do well in Advocacy. My Plea in Mitigation last month was decidedly average and I was very disappointed in my performance, however this month I felt that I gave the Bail Application a good shot and my marks improved. I really do need to get to grips with my nerves though because they are affecting my voice. And why the hell can't I stand still? I do hope that I will gain confidence in Advocacy now , I really enjoy it, but do need to be a little less hesitant and dull.

No-one wanted to be first up for defence, so I opted, just to get it out of the way. Afterwards, it was really interesting to watch the others strut their stuff and I'm amazed just how different we all are in our styles and approaches to Advocacy. As of yet, there have been no divisions in my small group and everyone is very supportive of one another. As part-timers, we only meet once a month and it was soothing to know that others are finding it tough going too.

We have our first mock assessment later this month, it's on Legal Research:-(

Different groups have different questions, mine is family law, the one subject that I know absolutely nothing about, because I didn't do it during LLB. I've no idea what the answers to any of the legal problems contained in the question are, so will have to start from scratch. To date Legal Research is my nemesis and I'll be pleased when the module finishes early next year (unless I fail and will have to do re-takes later on). We haven't started Negotiation yet and I believe that it can be a tricky one. Opinions looks like it can be an awkward module too, it's so easy to go off at a tangent and end up with completely the wrong conclusion. My remedies knowledge is not too brilliant and this may well prove to be a hindrance with Opinion Writing exercises.

My pro bono has been neglected of late due to lack of time, but I'm off to London later this week to get another day's worth completed.

Monday, 27 October 2008

H is for Hackneyed

Hackneyed -adj - used so often as to be trite, dull and stereotyped.

Barmaid fears that her forthcoming (pretend) bail application is hackneyed. The same old stuff, trotted out for the bored (and probably irritable) Magistrate to stifle a yawn at. What it needs is bells and whistles, but alas, the 'Beak' probably wouldn't appreciate Barmaid's stunning little tap dance routine to round off the application, but instead will have to endure, "er unless there are any further questions, er no?, er well er, that's er it then er."

In attempting to be a smart arse, Barmaid has picked at the prosecution's evidence to unearth every little weakness and has gotten herself tangled up in reams of notes that are now far too long and far too complicated to have any sort of flow. But it's knowing what to chop out and what to keep, it all seems to be relevant, but it's just soooo long winded and complex and requires constant referral as to who did what, when, how, why. Oh dear, what looked to be a simple little exercise is turning out to be a biography of the life and times of Mr Petty Alleged-Wrongun.

Monday, 6 October 2008

How to speak proper like

Just had my very first advocacy lesson and as Iain Morley says, I need to practise, practise, practise!

My family have cheered up anyway, the dvd of my efforts made everyone laugh. If I'd known that I was going to be filmed, I'd have flown in my make-up artist and hairdresser to add the final touches, just before the performance. I'd love to say that, having got the first one out of the way, my nerves are now settled, but the thought of doing the bail application next time makes me feel quite nauseous. It is remarkable, that out of a total of 6 different subjects studied over the weekend, the only one on everyone's lips was 'advocacy'.

Talking of everyone else, the others are all pretty cool and some really put me to shame with their polished advocacy performances. Memo to me: MUST TRY HARDER.

Criminal Litigation was great. Civil Litigation was a little daunting, the volume of work required is enormous. Legal Research is turning out to be a bit like Marmite, some love it, many hate it. It isn't the actual legal research itself that is the problem, it's the rules surrounding the research record that has to be compiled, that causes frustration and annoyance amongst many. Hard copy research of Halsbury's Laws just isn't funny. It's too early to say what Opinion Writing will be like, but it will probably improve as the course progresses.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

The Jury's Out?

I have just read an interesting, but disturbing article on Marilyn Stowe's Blog, concerning the recent murder trial of Joanne Hill. Mrs Hill murdered her daughter, Naomi, by drowning her in the bath. Naomi had cerebral palsy and it has been well reported in the media that Joanne Hill was an 'evil woman', who was 'ashamed' of her daughter. Yet closer inspection reveals a slightly different story, that of a depressed woman, who had attempted to commit suicide on two occasions and who was also diagnosed with severe post natal depression, following the birth of daughter. In fact Joanne Hill's history of mental illness went back to her teenage years, when she was treated for depression and 'abnormal' thoughts.

It seems that after Joanne Hill had killed Naomi, she dressed her and put her in the car and was subsequently captured on CCTV at a petrol station, laughing and joking with a colleague. The jury took just one hour and twenty minutes to reach a verdict of guilty. The jury decided that Joanne Hill was bad, but not mad. So, no doubt after a loo break and a cuppa, the jury probably spent less than an hour deciding this woman's culpability, who incidentaly was flanked by 2 psychiatric nurses during the trial.

Like many law students, I am a strong proponent of the jury system, it's a historic, fundamental right to be tried by one's peers and all that...

But, I recently sat in on a local criminal trial, quite a complex affair involving 2 defendants and 4 indictments. Following 6 days of evidence, the jury were sent out to deliberate. Having sat through 3 hours of closing speeches, 2 hours of summing up, the jury were dismissed to consider all possible angles to the case, armed with a 20 minute CCTV tape to watch and a bundle of documents to peruse. A little over 40 minutes later, at about 4p.m. they returned a majority verdict. The judge made them return the following day.

By coincidence I travelled the same train route as one of the jurors and walked behind her as she sashayed out of the court and towards the station, looking very pleased with herself. It was at that precise point that my faith in the jury system was shaken to the core. I knew from her self righteous demeanor that guilty verdicts had been found, but that wasn't my problem with this jury, it was the lack of time they took to go over all of the evidence. Counsel for each side had each presented credible arguments about the contents of the CCTV and other evidence, arguments that deserved a fair amount of thought, but no, some of the jurors were entering their third week of jury service and clearly wanted out. Incidentally, the defendants spent the first 2 days of trial unable to hear the prosecution evidence against them, someone had switched off the courtroom microphones, so the glass enclosed dock had no sound going to it.

So, if I'm ever arrested for a triable either way offence and given the choice, I'm off down the Magistrates Court, no jury trial for me, not on your life.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Are we nearly there yet?

Just as I thought I'd well and truly gotten top side(ish) of the BVC homework, I took a little glance at the Opinions paper and realised (with dismay I might add), that there wasn't one opinion to do, but two! So today I now have to write a short opinion on the merits of a consumer, contractual dispute. Could life get any better bloggers?

I am lucky, in that being self employed, I can juggle the work load a bit and it was my intention to cut down my hours for the duration of BVC anyway, but I can only assume that if I am struggling with the sheer quantity of homework dished out, others who have less flexibility in their working lives, must be really pushed to the limit. I'm not particularly happy with my standard of work either, it's just a matter of chucking something down on paper and moving swiftly onto the next module, without a chance to go back over the work. And as for money, well I'm well and truly broke, perhaps I'll change my name to Mrs Bingley Brassic Bank and write to the government, they may nationalise me and bail me out of my impecuniosity.

Comparing notes, it appears that students at other providers are having a lighter time of things and only time will tell whether this is a good or a bad thing?

On a more positive note, I am finding the course much more interesting than LLB, the work we have to do has more realism to it, but I am rather ashamed of my homework and feel very relieved that it won't form part of my assessments.

Barman dutifully fulfilled the role of a lady (or rather laydeee) Magistrate at the weekend and patiently listened to my plea in mitigation. He only looked at his watch twice during the 8 minute oration and gave a sympathetic smile at the end. "So" I said, "would you send her down?". Barman looked quite surprised at this question and said "For that?, no, it wasn't really her fault was it?"

There's hope for me yet bloggers.

Thursday, 25 September 2008


Advocacy, that's what it's all about. The ability to persuade others that your argument is better than the other side's. No problem, it'll be a breeze, I'm a woman for God's sake, it's what we were born to do, get our own way, by any which way, whilst the other side are somewhat belatedly uttering "what the f..."

So, why the problem? It's just a straight forward, common all garden, plea in mitigation. I just need to wax lyrical for a few minutes about what a little gem my pretend client is. I intended to spend a couple of hours, well ok, a morning preparing the crib notes and then run through it just the once, but things haven't quite gone according to plan. The bullet points with just a few words to prompt me are ok, but the plea has no flow, it's all over the place and as soon as I try to stop continually looking at the notes, I forget key points, such as the defendants name!

There's just so much to think about, what to do with my feet, hands, eyes, shoulders, voice, notes? Barman has been warned that this weekend he is going to be a judge and he will sit and listen to my plea in mitigation and will then offer constructive criticism. Barman has gone all quiet on me, he knows that this latest exercise could well turn into a very hot, political potato, resulting in childish sulks and absence of a lovingly cooked dinner.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

The letter 'G'

Gourmand - n - a person devoted to eating and drinking.

Barmaid met quite a few gourmands last night, it was her Inn introductory do and the wine flowed and flowed and flowed...

Sometime later Barmaid can remember thinking that perhaps her Inn wasn't such an archaic, stuffy, fuddy duddy institution after all and that given time, she may indeed become quite fond of it.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

The F word

Flapdoodle - n - foolish talk, nonsense

I like that word. I've got an Advocacy speech to prepare for BVC and just hope that I don't flapdoodle too much.

Speaking of 'f' words, my provider is definately trying to effing well finish me off. A quick count up of this months reading equates to circa 1000 pages and that's for a humble part-timer, who's also got to work for a living.

At the moment I'm working through the homework for Criminal Litigation and although it's not especially difficult (at this early stage), there is just so much of it to wade through. I've read through a good proportion of PACE 1984 and most of the Bail Act 1976. Tomorrow I will make a start on Evidence and imagine that things will start to get a little more difficult. In all, there are 37 questions to tackle in the Criminal Litigation homework, I'm about half way through them, but have had to leave off because my brain was full up.

Unlike LLB, which could be unbelievably boring at times, much of what I've studied so far is really quite interesting, if only there wasn't quite so much of it. I've already completed the Civil Litigation homework and part of the Legal Research (which needs much more attention), but I've got to finish off Criminal Litigation and then move onto Writing Skills sometime next week, but before I do, a day or two studying remedies is required. There is a short Opinion to prepare, which I haven't a clue about at the moment, but nevertheless, it looks to be quite interesting, but will be a bit of a challenge, not least because my legal research skills will be called upon. Last but not least, I also need to prepare for the Advocacy, plea in mitigation and I haven't even looked at the SGS notes for it yet! I have left the pim until last because it looks quite straight forward and will be a bit of a 'treat' compared to some of the heavier modules mentioned above.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008


I am drowning in a sea of study materials, the house is a tip, I had pizza for dinner yesterday and the remainder of it warmed up for lunch today, my hair needs washing, I've got a spot on my chin and I'm sullen and rude to all who know me. Bloggers, I'm nothing short of a born again student.

Today I did a short legal research study exercise, which took all morning and made me grumpy. This afternoon I decided to make a start on opinion writing, but soon gave that one up when it transpired that my knowledge of remedies is inadequate to say the least. I'm awaiting advocacy materials, so can't start on that little beauty just yet, so I've decided to make a start on civil litigation and have spent several hours reading The White Book, but could write what I've comprehended on the back of a fag packet. So now I'm even more grumpy and for some reason I've been told to read 3 chapters of a book that is banging on about what solicitors do and appears to have no relevance at all to the subject in hand. It also transpires that I'm a book short, probably some poor homeless chap got rendered unconcious by it flying out of my bag as I sped past him to catch my train home from boot camp (BVC induction).

To say that BVC is front loaded is a bit of an understatement, BVC is front loaded to Dolly Parton proportions.

p.s. Did I mention that I'm grumpy?

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

BVC is a four letter word

Wow, what a shock to the system my return to studying was. Having done very little serious reading for nigh on a year, BVC induction was a very rude awakening to what is forthcoming over the next 2 years of vocational training. A significant portion of the Rain Forest has been ruthlessly slayed in order to provide the mountain of study materials needed for the course. These materials are neatly stacked in the corner of my room, gathering dust, patiently awaiting my attention, which at the moment is on other matters to do with working for a living.

I've no idea what is required for the next session and probably like many other BVC students, feel a little bogged down with too much information, but the crucial element of what I actually need to study before my next session is somehow missing. I'm Professional Ethicsed up to the ears and hard copy Legal Research is a complete mystery to me (and judging by the looks on the other students faces, a complete mystery to them too). I mean, it is so much more civilised to peruse Lexis Nexis, rather than actually having to walk around a library and look at books.

On the third day, Barman asked me what I'd been studying at 'school' that day and he took it the wrong way (thinking I was being evasive) when I said "I don't know, I can't remember". Sometime later that evening, a few vague memories about the afternoon session returned, but I still couldn't recall what I'd done in the morning. And, having sat in lectures and small group sessions all day, we also had to do homework in the evening, a very draconian measure on the providers part I thought, too big a chunk taken out of my valuable local hostelry research, which, by the way, I'm confident in attaining an Outstanding classification.

I guess next week will be a little more enlightening when I have a chance to look through the study manuals and see what is needed before next attendance. Unable to work out who the class thicko is, apparently it must be me, but I'm not the class whinger, that esteemed prize has been appointed to another student, who I shall write about later. Talking of other students, on the whole they are very nice and come from a variety of backgrounds and professions. The age range is vast, from 21 - to late 50's I'd say, with the majority falling somewhere between the two figures.

Word of the day has got to be dipsomania - n - a compulsive desire to drink alcoholic beverages.

Monday, 18 August 2008

The 'C' word

cacography - n - Poor handwriting or grammar. (A subject very dear to BM's heart!)

Example - Is this cacography your pathetic excuse for a skeleton argument?

Bad Example - Is this cacography your pathetic excuse for a judgment?

Saturday, 16 August 2008

A Tale of Two Cities

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with London. On the one hand, it has a certain vibrancy and buzz about it, on the other hand it can be a very cruel city. Sometimes I have to travel to London in connection with work. It is usually an incredibly busy day, with a hop off the train, onto the tube, get the work done and a mad dash to get the train back home, late at night. This week I've had a few days in London, with a little more time to observe.

It is the cultural divide between city and village that is most remarkable to me, as an 'outsider' looking in. Where I live, the total village population is circa 150, the residents are made up of a variety of ages and professions. My friends in the village, who are of a similar age to me, come from a variety of backgrounds and we all get along great 'despite' our differences. If we each chose to only mix with people from similar professions or backgrounds as ourselves, we'd have no friends, simply because people are thin on the ground around here, so you take each person as you find them. But it appears to be quite different in the City. Go into a pub and you find a certain 'type' of people gathered together, all from the same profession. In short, London is quite cliquey. In other ways London is friendly, for instance whenever I get my battered A-Z out, someone will always stop and ask if they can help me find my way, but when travelling on the tube, people stare, God, how they stare, unsmiling and cold, particularly on the escalators.

Coming home on Thursday night, a man seated opposite me on the tube, hadn't noticed that his phone had slipped out of his pocket. His reaction to being told about the 'loss', was completely OTT, I could see the amazement on his face, that someone wasn't out to fleece him. He was still saying thankyou to Barman when he got up to leave several minutes later.

This week, I've had reason to meet people who really have had a raw deal 'London style' and was busy telling Barman all about it. Barman works in London regularly and is more used to the poverty than me, but when he came home Friday night, he told me that he'd walked past a homeless man, turned around, had a brief chat with him and had then given him some money. It seems that Barmaid's advocacy is improving, she actually persuaded her better half to part with some cash :-)

The letter 'b'

Word of the day

bravura - n - 1. a display of boldness or daring. 2. a piece of music requiring great skill by the performer.

Example - My learned friend has shown great bravura in attempting to raise the defence of insanity in this case.

Bad Example - He's a WWII veteran don't yer know, with a medal for bravura, yer can't send 'im down.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Word of the day

Well, I said that I might and having just read the latest from Simon Myerson's blog, I've decided that I will 'do' a word a day. I'll try and choose something that could be used in a legal environment and of course it has to be a word that makes a nice sound when uttered. Being endlessly imaginative, I thought I'd start with 'A'.

anathema - n - 1. a detested person or thing, 2. the person or thing so cursed, 3. a strong curse

Example: I don't like the defendant, he is anathema to me.

Bad Example: My client cannot attend court today, he's had anathema attack :-)

Monday, 11 August 2008

Back to School

Barmaid remembers perhaps a little too vividly, the sinking feeling that she felt when the Summer holidays were drawing to a close and it was soon to be time for the dreaded lop-sided fringe haircut, embarrassingly bad new shoes (that Mum thought were 'nice and smart') and back to school. With BVC drawing ever nearer and last minute doubts setting in, BM feels ill prepared and anxious again. She's had six years of LLB to prepare, but somehow it isn't enough and there is always that area of law that she knew that she'd studied at some point, but can't for the life of her remember a thing about it.

To make matters worse, her provider has kindly banked the BVC fees and gone into silent mode, despite desperate attempts by BM to talk to someone, anyone! Barmaid has no idea about what time to turn up, who to ask for, or what she will need to take with her (perhaps a new jotter covered in wall paper will suffice)? Oh well, if she cannot arrange train tickets because of THEM, she'll just have to travel in style and bring Bar-Os into class with her, she can't leave him outside, he'll get clamped.

Sunday, 10 August 2008


Barmaid sometimes gets a rude awakening with regards to just how incredibly boring she really is. Due to torrential rain and the avoidance of doing anything useful, Barmaid has spent many hours delving into the diverse and piecemeal topic of Environmental Law. Today, she decided to impress all those nearest and dearest to her with a wealth of mind blowingly, fabulous statistics. Starting off with fly-tipping, she eagerly told her captive audience just what a serious problem this was and not only that, but that it was also very lucrative to those organised criminals who fly-tipped on a grand commercial scale. Barmaid was met with "So, did you try that new jasmine scented wash powder then, it's nice isn't it?"

Not to be put off, Barmaid marched onwards, really getting to grips with her finely honed advocacy skills, telling her audience that the average fine for destroying a bat colony was a pathetic £200. She was told "You're so full of shit, your eyes are brown".

Barmaid is quite certain that a judge would never be so rude as to undermine her incredible talent in such a way, but just in case, she has somewhat prematurely decided that she will wear sunglasses on her first professional visit to a court.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Raspberry Ripples

Barmaid has got to know you a little better and feels comfortable enough to mention something that has been perplexing her for some time. It involves the Law of Gravity.

Barmaid's village is a hotbed of salacious gossip. Topics, such as the mobile library being 10 minutes late last week, are discussed with earnest animation. I've no idea who Ernest Animation is, by the way, but he's a scandal monger.

Anyway, the latest hot topic involves something a bit more juicy. It involves a lady who has recently moved into the village and who's presence is threatening the rural, sleepy idyll that the residents have enjoyed and indeed taken for granted for centuries. You see, it's her breasts. In every way, she epitomises respectability and decency - apart from her knockers. Come rain or shine, she is bra-less and 'alert' if you get my drift. And she wears crochet tops, with big holes, without a bra! But that's not the end of the sorry tale. It's the, well, position of the raspberry ripples that are causing most concern amongst the villagers. Roughly speaking, as far as we know, they should be more or less central, but, these aren't. They are about 2 inches higher. Barmaid thought that they were rubber ones that had slipped upwards, but closer inspection has verified that they are real! Not only that, but they also point upwards, a bit like coat pegs and equally as dangerous.

Well, you can imagine what a turmoil the village is in. None of the men have a clue what she actually 'looks' like - hair colour, eye colour - nope, not a clue.

Barmaid was consulted by the Parish Council regarding the legal aspects of such 'items'. She told them, that as far as she knows, planning consent isn't required for the offending 'items', not even in a Conservation Village, although they do definitely protrude beyond the building line.

Over the years, the village has successfully fought the onslaught of BSE, Foot and Mouth Disease and the decline of the local bus service, but this latest threat could well put an end to us.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

New Groom Sweeps Clean

Barmaid has got a new job. It's only temporary and involves being in charge of 8, in the afternoon. Impressive eh? Perhaps further explanation is required. A friend who has a livery yard (b + b for horses), has gone away competing for a few days, so, Barmaid has the highly esteemed (or should that be esteamed!) job of mucking out the horses in the afternoon. Barmaid can confidently report back to friend that none of the horses are constipated!

The horses are all very well bred and one young stallion has been picked for the Pathfinder Scheme, with a view to competing at the 2012 Olympics. His name is Ingliston Twister and he is a show jumper. Barmaid has accompanied Twister out on exercise and was somewhat nervous due to his reputation for being a tad excitable. Now a 'tad excitable' by friend's standard, roughly translates to being a complete nutter. God bless Bar-Os, who was unimpressed by Twister's reputation and took it upon himself to be boss and to show us all a thing or two about how to behave in public. A mile or two into the hack and both horses were calmly cantering along side each other with confidence and contained power. Due to Bar-Os's calming effect on Twister, Barmaid has been promised a ring side seat, should he qualify for the Olympics. She will no doubt brag to all unfortunate enough to be seated near to her, how instrumental she was in the stallion's education.

Barmaid has also been studying. Remedies. Not the most straight forward of subjects, but the first few chapters of her book are, if nothing else, providing a refresher on the fundamental principles of Contract and Tort. She must also try and do something about her legal research skills, which she fears may let her down when doing BVC. Next time she visits her Inn, she will bribe the law librarian into providing a 'Janet and John' style intro into their electronic databases.

Just to update you on Mr Blackbird. His son/daughter has flown the nest and he has indeed, as suspected, taken his affections next door. Barmaid does get the occasional glimpse of him, but he pretends not to recognise her, she's not bothered - much.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Giant haystacks

Barmaid got back from work on Monday, pleased that the evening's itinerary consisted of nothing more than getting a meal ready and sitting outside in the evening sunshine to eat it. Well that little dream didn't last long, a message on the answerphone informed her that the hay had been baled that day. A quick look at the weather forecast, confirmed her suspicions, rain was predicted for Tuesday.

Two hours later, Barmaid was tired and emotional, but very smug because she had managed to stack 153 bales of hay. Barman and a friend's son carted the bales in off the field, whilst Barmaid built layer upon layer of hay. The smugness didn't last long, the next day Barmaid couldn't move her right arm and her back hurt too. However, she wasn't the worst casualty, friend's 16 year old strapping son had taken to his bed and hadn't been seen since, he was heard muttering something about blisters on his way upstairs.

There is something very rewarding about making your own hay and it also offers peace of mind in that the pasture has been cleared of ragwort (a highly poisonous plant), suppose it's a bit like people who grow their own vegetables (and just as anoraky).

Over the past few weeks Barmaid has been busy with many manual tasks and is rather concerned that she will be talent spotted for 2012 Olympic shot-put team, such are her biceps. Her worst fears of not being chosen for any of her Inn's student activities have been dispelled, she's been picked for the annual inter-Inn arm wrestling championships.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Countryside in Crisis?

For those of you who hate the countryside, there is no need to read any further, you will be bored senseless. For those of you who might wonder what the countryside is all about, read on.

It's several years since I moved to this house. It's in a village, much like any other village and I imagine that what I'm about to tell you applies to most rural habitats throughout the UK. When I moved here, the village had four working farms, now there are none. The first farm to go was the smallest, a father and son dairy farm. The farm's cows used to be walked through the village each day, out to pasture, to be brought back to the farm in the afternoon for milking. Following complaints by 'new people' in the village, the farmer had to stop leading the cows through the village. Cows eat a lot and shit a lot, the new people thought it disgraceful that the cows would (occasionally) shit on the road and made a fuss to the local authority about the health and safety hazards created by such an activity. So, the farmer was no longer able to walk his cows through the village to the lush pastures and had to make do with the smaller, inferior paddocks adjacent to his farm. The cows didn't produce as much milk and the supplementary feeding required meant that the farm was running at a loss.

The second farm to go was a larger enterprise, about 400 acres in total and a mixture of arable and dairy farming. Originally, the farm employed two local 'farm hands', who could carry out all of the tasks required on the farm. However, after a number crunching exercise the farmer contracted out the farm work, the two farm hands were made redundant. The contracting out didn't work out and the farm land was sold off, the farmhouse was sold separately, with just a token amount of land for amenity use.

The third farm to go was an arable, tenant farm, about a thousand acres in total. The farmer told me that he just wasn't making any money, so he decided not renew the tenancy. He had tried to negotiate with the supermarket who he supplied his produce to and the 1 penny more (per item) that he needed was refused. The owners of the estate sold off the farmhouse and buildings, the land belongs to an insurance company and is worked by outside contractors.

The fourth and final farm to go was the largest and oldest, spanning 4 generations. Originally the farm had about 2000 acres of land in total, built up over the 4 generations. Over the years many small pockets of land near to the roads, were sold off for building, but the bulk of the land remained. On the face of it, the farm seemed to be prospering, but this was not the case and most of the land had been secretly sold off to an American religious order, the day to day working of the farm was contracted back to the farmer, so on the face of it, the farm appeared intact. Last year, the remaining bits and bobs were sold off and the land is now farmed by outside contractors. For the village, this was the saddest closure, up until 3 years ago one of the first generation farmers was still alive and it must have been devastating to see the farm slowly asset stripped.

Things have changed an awful lot over the years and the way that the countryside now makes money is not particularly pleasant. Shooting has always been a pastime for country people. It used to entail a few landowners getting together and going out shooting a few animals, usually after a skinfull, so usually the shooters missed the (intended) target, but occasionally shot each other instead! Shooting nowadays is a different kettle of fish, it's big business and attracts the wealthy businessmen from faraway towns and cities, who only visit the countryside to play. Around here, pheasants are bred in tens of thousands, kept in enclosures until the day before the shoot and then let out for the massacre. Businessmen pay big money to shoot, they want a return on that investment, so want to shoot lots and lots. Although illegal, pump action shotguns are used and lots and lots of pheasants are shot, far too many to take back home, so they are tipped into the ditches by the barrow load and left to rot.

Some local farmland was sold to a businessman, who has built a racing track. It is noisy and on race days, the local roads are avoided because these too are treated like a race track. Last year two people were killed leaving the racetrack when they took a country lane bend too quickly and hit a tree. Nearby, a local home owner has had his garden fence demolished four times by people leaving the race track, still high on adrenaline from the track racing. His children are no longer allowed to play in the garden. Local horse riders and cyclists no longer venture out on these country roads at weekends, it's just not safe.

'The Hall' in our village used to be a boarding school, but it closed four years ago. It provided employment for the village, from cleaners to teachers and every profession in between. It has recently been purchased by an American, who has very kindly chopped down 80% of the ancient woodland belonging to the estate. Locals were up in arms about what had happened, but pleas to the local council to place tree preservation orders on the woodland were refused. DEFRA did get involved because the trees had been felled without a felling licence, the maximum fine is £2'500, the case was discontinued due to being 'not in the public interest'.

And then we have the human shit mountain. I noticed a lot of activity down a local farmtrack, lots of 'officials' in high vis jackets supervising lorries. A large brown hill appeared on the edge of a field, right next to the public footpath. It is human waste. Due to a loophole in the law, it can be dumped like this, but as soon as it is spread on the field, it has to be ploughed in within hours. So, the little country farm track that used to be so popular with dog walkers, playing children etc. is now strangely empty. No doubt the landowner got a pretty penny for allowing the waste to be dumped. There is money to be made out of the countryside, big money, but it comes at a price.

A farmer in a neighbouring village likes to boast that the money he gets for set aside, runs into six figures each year. He knows how to work the system, get the money for the 'conservation'. But, he doesn't like people using the public footpaths on his land and ran into a pregnant woman with his Land Rover, in order to teach her a lesson about 'trespassing' on his land. He tried a similar tactic with my (75 year old) Dad, but he'd picked the wrong person for an argument. My Dad is great, I have to say that, he reads my blog, and he makes fabulous muffins, but if you get on the wrong side of him...

Despite all of this, I still love the countryside, I don't know any different, but it isn't quite as idyllic and twee as looks from the outside.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

The Wood Report

Had a very quick browse through The Wood Report, all 104 pages of it. It seems to me, that what started out as a 'sorting wheat from chaff' exercise (to prevent no hopers from forking out loads of dosh for BVC), has been diluted so much, that the report's original intention has been lost.

The report recommends that an aptitude test be passed by all prospective BVC students. The test will be mostly in the multiple choice question format. This is where it all starts to crumble for me. I know a little about MCQ's, having sat them myself in my 'day job'. There are usually 4 possible answers to each question, a,b,c or d. One of the possible answers is usually very obviously wrong, another choice answer is usually unlikely, which leaves just two possible answers to choose from. So, with very little knowledge, a student can obtain 50% without knowing very much at all about the examination subject. Add in a bit of knowledge and that 50% can be bumped up to say 70% without too much effort at all. But, that's not my main concern, the report recommends that a student be able to re-sit the aptitude test as many times as need be in order to pass. The report states that this is in order to allow students 'to improve', my concern is that it will allow weak students to get lucky and so it is back to square one again, with unsuitable candidates taking BVC.

The statistical evidence included in the report provides that currently, some 49% of BVC students feel that their studies 'were impeded' by weaker students, the other 51% were too bloody thick to understand the questionnaire.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008


Yet another visit to the Inn has resulted in disappointment for Barmaid. She was minding her own business, browsing the library bookshelves and sensed a man approaching in her direction. When he got within a few feet of her, she quickly glanced sideways towards him, to be met by that three letter noise - "tut". A tut can speak a thousand words, bloggers, but I'll keep it short. What the man really wanted to say when tutting, was "bloody women, they invade our private little realms of superiority, pretend to understand what it's all about, shouldn't be allowed, it's, it's, it's a disgrace I'll have you know, is no place sacred nowadays".

Barmaid quickly looked downwards, back to the book within her hand, but what she really wanted to do, as he swaggered by, was kick him up the arse.

Sunday, 20 July 2008


Sometimes I do wonder why exactly I chose to live where I do, every place I need to go to involves mile upon mile of travelling. But then, it only takes a moment to stand and stare and it all comes flooding back to me.

And, it is nice to stop and chat with the neighbours, catch up on all the latest gossip.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Not Long Now

The days are flying past at the moment and it's only a month and a bit until BVC commences.

I had expected a little more information to have filtered through from the providers about what time 'it' starts and where I am to go on the first day, after all, I've had the invoice from them for weeks.

Having taken advice from those more learned than me, I've not bothered with much more LLB revision, but have an advocacy book, called 'Devil's Advocate' to read through. Iain Morley writes well, he's entertaining and knowledgeable, which is a novel combination after 6 years of mostly dry, humourless legal manuals. I especially like the pages with just a few words on them because they make you stop and ponder for a moment or two, before reading on some more. It is one of those books where you can loose yourself a little and can be quite surprised that 20 pages have been read without really being aware that you were reading at all. Now, this is different to LLB studies, I had to bribe myself to get through the workload - "5 more pages and a cuppa, 10 more pages and chocolate, write another 250 words before closing your books".

I'm not sure whether I'm looking forward to BVC or not, on the one hand it is an opportunity to learn how law works in real life, on the other hand, it is a lot of money to spend on a course, with very little guarantee of work at the end of it. I'm not going in to figures, others have and it's not healthy.

Although confidence comes with age, there is always that niggling doubt :

Will I be the class thicko? - having to sit there nodding, but thinking, what the hell are they on about.
Will I be the oldest? - sit granny near the front so she can hear you/see you.
Will my bum look big on camera? - no reason why not.
Will I be the least posh? - yes.
Will I get the giggles? - more than likely, particularly if pubs are at all involved.
Will I be excluded? - (in my day it was called expelled) - more than likely if pubs are involved.
Will the tutors like me/respect me? - not if they come to the pub.
Will the other students like me? - yes, if they come to pub.
Will the other students respect me? - not if they come to the pub.

The list goes on bloggers and I've not even got an idea about how I should dress. I know that when we are assessed, we should wear suits, but what about the rest of the time? I can't do white or pale pink, I have an affliction known as 'Latte Chest', it's not serious, but does result in unsightly beige stains on the front of 'girly' tops.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Filthy Lucre

The dawn of realisation is upon me. I will shortly have to pay the first installment of BVC fees and it's not a happy prospect. Money has never been very important to me, it's nice to have a bit, it's awful to have none, but it hasn't been a significant motivation in my career to date. Having said that, I'm now more than a little concerned because I'm going to be in debt to the tune of £13k+ by the time I finish BVC. I work, but will be looking at reducing my hours come August, so what I do earn during BVC will only pay for the usual utility bills etc., hence there may be little prospect of chipping away at the debt over the next two years.

So, today I'm feeling quite depressed about it all and this is a worry because I'm usually a quite an optimistic person.

Going back a few years (well 20 odd if you must), I started a little part-time business to earn a bit of extra cash and the business grew a little and provided me with a reasonable income for many years. I really enjoyed what I did for a living, but due to circumstances beyond my control (foot and mouth disease of all things!), the business very nearly went under and it was a wake up call, perhaps it was time to have a re-think about my career.

My original intention when starting my legal studies, was to become a (hands on) property developer and to carry out my own conveyancing etc.. However, house prices (around my locality) have at least doubled if not trebled within the last 7 years, so this dream may well not be realised, unless of course property prices drop significantly by the time I finish BVC. Conversely, conveyancing charges have become so competitive, that my little money saving idea is not so significant after all.

In between times, I started another little business, which is doing okay and I have a huge advantage in the flexibility that being one's own boss allows, but it is quite a boring job, not very challenging academically and doesn't really 'float my boat' in the way that your own business should.

So, bloggers, this leaves me with the unenviable task of trying to make a new path, one that will be, above all else, a pleasure to travel down, but will also enable me to pay off that bloody BVC loan.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Single parent family

I've acquired lodgers.

The photo isn't very clear, but if you look closely you will see a male blackbird and his baby, near to the 'trunk' of the shrub.

I first saw Daddy blackbird, when he sat on my windowsill looking straight at me through the open window, less than 2ft away. He is a mess, feathers all over the place, thin and disheveled. Being a hard nosed, legal type, I immediately got him some food and took it outside, only to notice baby on the floor hopping around demanding to be fed. Daddy blackbird began stuffing food down baby's throat, before grabbing the odd morsel for himself. I've no idea what's happened to the mother, but she's not around, probably victim to one of the many cats that I've noticed stalking around the garden. Baby is very fat, but child rearing has definitely taken its toll on Dad.

Often, when we are in the garden, he appears and comes so close that you could probably reach out and touch him, it's amazing that he seems to know where to get help.

I've not seen them today and I suspect that he may have taken his affections elsewhere. My neighbour has bought them some special food (worms!) and I've a feeling that he's gone to her because her culinary delights are so much nicer than mine. Seems that the way to a mans heart is through his stomach.

I've had a look at my land law notes and I'm fairly sure that 'the lodgers' have no legal claim to any beneficial interest in my (modest) estate, however a defamation action may follow, I did call him thin and disheveled and he is now threatening me with breach of confidence as well! - it seems I've invaded his privacy by publishing a photo of him and he's certain that the HRA protects him. I did say to him that the HRA only applies to humans, but he mysteriously said "remember Regina v Ojibway, anything is possible in law".

Monday, 7 July 2008


It is six and a bit years since I started LLB and it appears that in order to do well in Bar Vocational Exams, one needs to know a little bit about law - bugger, I knew that there would be a catch somewhere.

I'm always amazed how many 'must do' activities I can find in order to avoid doing any studying: washing, ironing, cleaning windows, paperwork, paying bills, texting friends, checking the oil and water on the car, annoying Barman, annoying Barman a bit more, waving at Barman mowing the lawn, making coffee for Barman mowing the lawn.......

I finally struck a deal with myself -"Barmaid, you may watch the men's Wimbledon tennis final, if, you have, at all times, an open book on your lap and occasionally gaze down at it and read a few words". So, a whistlestop journey of year one, LLB course work ensued. I've a funny feeling that much of what I revised is now obsolete, being six and a bit years old. No worries on the Public and Administrative stuff, as my notes on those subjects were timelessly condensed anyway - 'Judicial review is a thingy that you can do if someone in authority really p!**%s you off', "yep I've got that".

Onto crime now: Theft Act, Criminal Damage, Homicide, Inchoate Offences, Attempts, Assaults - pause to have a smirk at notes written on R v Wilson and R v Brown, show Barman what you are smirking at, who looks faint at the thought of having his wotsits stapled, but quite likes the idea of branding Barmaid's big fat ass, not for any kinky reason you understand, just for the sheer fun of it, if only he could find a branding iron large enough to cope with the momentous task. Pause again because the tennis is really, really good, then realise with dismay that there is a huge gap in Barmaid's notes because sexual offences were not covered, due to a change in the law and her uni being too lazy to update their study materials. But that's ok, Barmaid will just have to have a 'no sex, we're British' policy if she decides to become a criminal barrister.

This week Barmaid will tackle 'Yerp', no, not the continent itself (although she seems to recall from her school History lessons, a little chap with a moustache trying to do just that), just the E.C. law enveloping it. Seem to remember there are lots of Van's involved!

Friday, 4 July 2008


The hairdresser problem has taken hours of research, should really have got it sorted sooner, but commercial Landlord and Tenant wasn't covered in any great detail when I did LLB, so I had to do a crash course in business leases before even attempting to sort hairdresser's problem out. Finally came across a very recent case which may well prove to be extremely helpful.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) offer a mediation service for business tenants with problems, I've recommended that my hairdresser gets in touch with them to see if there is possibility for negotiation with the landlord. The ruling in the case I mentioned may prove to be a useful bargaining tool against the landlord and may also, if nothing else, save me from the bubble perm.

Seems a bit unfair that residential tenants can take their claims to tribunal (the LVT), but there is no such facility (that I'm aware of) for business tenants, who of course experience just as many leasehold problems as 'dwellers'. It's the small businesses that struggle to find legal help, because any sort of litigation is often too expensive for them to contemplate.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

All in a days work

When studying for LLB I thought that the amount of different legal subjects covered (along with their respective spin offs) was vast. However, when asked for 'legal' advise by friends and family, it really does make you realise what an enormous subject law is, you can guarantee that anything asked is outside the scope of LLB materials.

At the moment I have three legal conumdrums to explore:

1) The hairdresser's landlord problem mentioned in a previous post.

2) Countryside stewardship (of all things).

3) Dissolving of a company to avoid paying damages.

Problem 2 was straight forward, a look at the 150+ page document covering stewardship schemes available from DEFRA, got that one put to bed pretty sharpish, although I can't say it was the most exciting thing I've ever read and I do deserve a medal for ploughing through it (no pun intended).

Problems 1 and 3 are the most problematic not least because they involve relatively small sums of money, so any legal solution has to be workable within a modest budget and also because they are both slightly different to any case law that I've researched so far.

Problem 3 originally involved a very run-of the-mill, supply of goods and services, small claims case. My friends took a builder to court for sub-standard work done on their house, they won, but he dissolved the (fully solvent) company to avoid paying out. He's now set up again, under a very similar name and has basically stuck two fingers up at my friends. Due to an oversight, the County Court judgment against him didn't show up at Companies House when he dissolved the original company and everyone is saying "it's not my fault" and pointing the finger elsewhere. There's lots of case law on similar stuff, but they all seem to involve insolvency law, not applicable in this case. I will stick with it until something workable transpires.

Problem 1 is difficult because I think my hairdresser has been given incorrect 'proper' legal advise. I really must get down to some research on this one, but landlord and tenant stuff is very convoluted and not an area of law that I'm comfortable with at this stage.

One thing I have learnt, it all takes up so much time.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Longer arms required

Barmaid has got a headache.

She has been foolishly kidding herself that legal text is getting smaller, but the final straw came today when, having faffed about with her printer for half an hour, she realised that the blurred pages weren't the printers fault, but were due to her failing eyesight. To add insult to injury, the continual squinting has given her one hell of a headache.

On a brighter note, Barmaid has been reading up on one of her favourite subjects - director's duties and (directors) breach of fiduciary duty. When explaining to Barman why it was such an interesting area of law, he looked at her and said that she really does need to get out more.

Saturday, 28 June 2008


Second visit to the Inn yesterday and Barmaid was a little more relaxed about it all. People watching was a greater success than the legal research which Barmaid had originally set out to do.

Barmaid's hairdresser is having a spot of bother with his landlord, so Barmaid thought that she'd have a look (in the Inn library) at some landlord and tenant stuff to see if she could help. Somehow or another, Barmaid finished up reading a very good book about The Companies Act 2006 and then went onto an employment law book written by an eminent Q.C., that focused mainly on restrictive covenants in employment contracts - the hours just sailed by....

If you see Barmaid sporting a bubble perm in the near future, please don't ask if her hairdresser got his landlord problem sorted.

She also got chatting to a very well educated, baby barrister, who said that his legal speciality was "creme". Barmaid didn't know that dairy produce was such a hotbed of litigation and may look into doing "creme" herself when it comes to choosing electives.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Swooshing Gowns

I finished my law degree last Autumn, but graduation ceremonies weren't until this Spring. Much to my disappointment (not), the ceremony was to take place at a cathedral some 100 miles away from where I live, so I decided not to bother graduating 'proper', but just to make do with receiving my bit of paper in the post. However, Barman and various other allies of his had other ideas, and it was with much bullying and cajoling that I eventually agreed to attend the graduation 'proper'.

The day came and the weather was beautiful. Now, you may be thinking that this would have cheered me up, but oh no, it made me even more annoyed that I'd got to get dressed up, put on some slap (renovating plaster) and trundle my way across country to prance around in a glorified smock, I'd much rather have spent a few hours in the garden pretending to weed the borders.

I'd ordered my graduation gown online, so when we got there I went to the robing tent to get kitted up and I kid you not, there was a 'Mr Ben' moment when that gown went on - Barmaid was resplendent, sophisticated and nothing short of a pure genius and what's more, the gown just went to prove it. Barman was smiling (well ok, laughing) as Barmaid sashayed out of the tent, a sight to behold in sacred robes of academia. Tell you what though, my swooshing was nothing compared to the hundreds of men prancing around the cathedral grounds, they clearly enjoyed the feeling of soft, ruched, fabric falling against their ankles (yes, they'd all lied about their height, hence the gowns were 6 inches too long on them), and what's more they'd mastered the hip swivelling to perfection - boy, did those gowns swoosh!

Two (or so) glasses of champagne later, Barmaid proudly, but rather unsteadily walked across the stage to receive her degree 'proper' and in hindsight wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Did she swoosh? - you bet ya she did!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

RCJ and my Inn

Decided to have a day in London yesterday. First stop was my BVC provider to drop off some registration paperwork. Next on the agenda was my first visit to my Inn. Don't know what I expected, but perhaps I will grow to love the place in time!

Took myself off to the the Royal Courts of Justice - what a lovely place, with a fab atmosphere. Sat in the little cafe watching the lawyers going about their business, all looking elegant and relaxed. One elderly barrister had a young pupil with him and was talking to her in such a kindly way, taking time to carefully ask her opinion on this and that. Oh, how I hope that I get someone just as nice if and when I get pupillage.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Charon Q.C's Freudian Slip

Charon Q.C has most kindly included Barmaid's blog in his blogroll. I think he has unintentionally let slip exactly what he thinks to this blog, for it is listed as Bar-maid bogspot.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Cash for Qualifications

Having spent the last 6 years studying part-time for my LLB (Hons), it really p*****s me off to discover that if you do a one year conversion course (GDL) with a certain provider and then sign up for their LPC, you will automatically be awarded an LLB on completion of LPC - no additional studies are required. The provider argues that the 'add-on' LLB isn't a qualifying law degree, so there's no harm done. My question is, if it isn't a qualifying law degree, what is the point of it? It looks to me like nothing more than a 'bribe' to entice students onto their expensive courses - cash for qualification me thinks.

I'm proud of my degree, I worked hard to get it and that is the way it should be. Some parts of my traditional LLB course I found interesting, some parts were tedious and complex and nothing short of a long, hard slog, hour upon hour of reading and note taking, waiting for that eureka moment, when the penny finally drops and that little bit of complicated case law is finally comprehended. Law is a difficult subject, law degrees should test the student's ability to understand complex legal theory. It is for this reason that I don't want LLB's to be dished out like sweeties at a kids birthday party.

I was thinking of doing LLM, but hey, I'm gonna hang on a bit, I've a heard on the grapevine that Tesco are going to be dishing them out for free if you buy £50 worth of groceries online before April 1st next year.

Rant over, the bar is calling me - The Five Bells to be precise.