Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Blogosphere Bermuda Triangle?

Well, first Bar-Boy disappeared, followed by Legal Lass, then Mennard and now Legally Ginge and Lawminx have vanished too!

Now, I'm not one for being paranoid, but now I come to think of it...

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Plenty of Room for Improvement

Bit of a turn up for the books really. BVC is never predictable and that rule was pretty much demonstrated last weekend.

Having had my first stab at examination-in-chief and cross-examination, it would appear that I am at present equally crap in both of the required arts. Tutor's blood pressure was dangerously high as he attempted to hammer home gently guide me through the subtle process of controlling the witness and getting from them what you want. The dvd of my performance is worthy of an Oscar nomination, not least for the petulant look on my face whilst being screamed at told "NO, NO, NO, HOW MANY MORE TIMES TO I HAVE TO TELL YOU...?".    Answers on a postcard please:-)

Hearsay was a shambles and it is definitely a subject that I have got to revisit (yet again) at some point before the MCT, otherwise I shall be very lucky to pass.

Negotiation was a turn up for the books and I did well, despite this being my most feared subject to date.

Drafting was informative, but also a little daunting. Civil was, as expected, civilised.

Today I'm having a look over my mock exam paper for Opinion Writing. Mmm it's going to be very tricky to do and will require plenty of preparation and planning, which tbh aren't exactly favourite pastimes of mine, as I much prefer to wade in feet first.

So, it would appear that I shall be a criminal barrister who can do bail applications, submissions of no case to answer, pleas in mitigation, but cannot examine any witnesses or do any cases in which hearsay crops up.

Apart from that, everything is going exactly to plan!

Onwards and upwards eh:-)

Friday, 16 October 2009

What goes around...

No sooner have I just about finished the homework, another study weekend looms.

Yesterday I finished off my Drafting homework, which took far longer than anticipated due to the fact that I'd forgotten most of what I studied last year, so I had to re-read much of the notes. Not one for comfort zones, my provider always manages to ask something that is slightly beyond our capabilities and thus part of the Drafting is guesswork.

Today I intend to finish off some notes for my first bash at examination-in-chief and also have a quick look over the other materials that I have prepared for the classes. Oh and also I need to tidy up the house! If the weather stays fair, I might just have time for a quick hack with Bar-Os. His legs are still troubling him from where the flies have bitten them and made them sore, but all attempts to treat them have been to no avail. I finally resorted to using some lavender oil to soothe the sores and keep the flies at bay, seeing as it has insect-repellant properties. However it also has relaxing properties and he was flat out snoring in his stable for several hours last night! If only it would have the same effect on me when I'm unable to sleep!

I may have previously mentioned that a relative of mine has been having some problems with a neighbour, who decided to erect a massive poly tunnel next to my relative's boundary and very close to relative's house. There are no planning restrictions on poly tunnels within gardens around here, so there was nothing that my relative could do.

Unfortunately the neighbour owns a piece of agricultural that stretches across the back of relative's property and has recently erected a closed-board fence on the land to prevent relative from enjoying the previously unobstructed views that stretched for miles. The boundary already had a perfectly adequate post and rail fence in place (that is relative's responsibility to maintain), but neighbour has erected the new fence about half a metre away from the original fence.

What a lot of problems this has caused! The new fence blocks out light to a greenhouse and a sun-lounge, but having looked at the law surrounding right to light and injunctions, it was too risky to take the matter further. In the mean-time, neighbour has placed several structures on the agricultural land, many of them on the boundary, including sheds and so forth, resulting in realtive's modest plot being enclosed by neighbours somewhat untidy structures.

Enough is enough and the local council were asked to evaluate what had happened. The neighbours had purchased the house about 4 years ago, having previously lived in a city. They moved to 'live the dream', ie. to become self sufficient, grow their own veg, raise animals for the table etc. The upshot of the council's findings is that there has been a change of use on the agricultural land to that of a garden extension and the neighbours can no longer grow things on the 4 acre area. The field will now have to be returned to, well a field. The structures on the field have to be removed. The neighbours did look into applying for a lawful development certificate, but they cannot satisfy the criteria.

To date the fence remains in place. I'm trying to fathom out if the fence is lawful. On the one hand, there are no applicable restrictions to fences on agricultural land save for the fact that it can be no more than 2 metres high. This is of little help as relative's home is set on land that is lower down than the neighbours, so although the fence measures over 7ft tall on relative's side, it is only 6ft tall from the neighbours ground. But I do wonder if by the fact that at the relevant time (when the fence was erected), the neighbours land was being used (unlawfully) as a garden extension, this constitutes a breach of planning policy for garden extensions, which recommends post and rail fencing, underplanted with native hedgerow plants.

So at the end of the day, relative's neighbours have 4 acres of land that they cannot use, relative's rear garden is dark and oppresive with no view and all because of a poly tunnel and an arrogant man who moved from the city to the country to enjoy the good life.

I did offer to mediate with the relative's neighbour, but just received a bog standard solicitors letter by way of reply.

Any ideas anyone?

Friday, 9 October 2009

Hearsay Revisited

I couldn't put it off any longer, so finally sat down for 2 days and steadily read through the hearsay stuff. No excuses, mostly perfect peace and quiet, coffee on tap, concentration on full tilt. Deciding to read Keane for starters, then after 5 pages abandoning that idea for 60 pages of another author's writings that were recommended to me by 'Lost'. I actually enjoyed reading those 60 pages, felt that I understood a fair amount of what was written, so I confidently went back to the homework questions, carefully perused them for several hours, comparing what was asked with what I'd read, gave that up as a bad job and guessed the bloody lot! Oh dear, it would appear that moi is thick!

With another study weekend on the horizon, I'm going to be lucky if I get all the homework completed, I just seem to be on a go-slow at the moment, but at least I managed to finish the Negotiation plan a few days ago. Having only had one lesson on that subject so far, I have already decided that I dislike it intensely, which is quite odd as I enjoyed Conference and the two subjects are fairly similar.

I have prepared notes for the 2 advocacy lessons - 1 for examination-in-chief, the other for cross-examination, but may go back and re-do the XIC as in hindsight it is a load of rubbish.

I'm hoping to do some marshalling before Christmas, although I don't quite know how I will find the time what with work and all that, but it is a much needed experience and one that others have recommended to me. I have asked to do something civil, in an attempt to steer myself away from the criminal bar, but somehow I think that old habits die hard and the criminal bar is where my heart lies. But you never know, I might just have a eureka moment and finally fall hopelessly in love with exemption clauses in contract claims!

Having had zero success with OLPAS this year, I have decided to put pupillage applications on the back burner for a while and will try some non-OLPAS apps next year, once I have gotten boss-side of BVC. For now I need to try and concentrate on study and work and worry about pupillage another time.

It is lovely having Bar-Os home, particularly as his time away was only meant to be for a month or so, but finished up far longer due to him being poorly. Thankfully he seems to be fully recovered, but has poorly heels where the flies have bitten him relentlessly. Most horses have black skin, but his is white and very sensitive, so he does tend to suffer with skin problems. He is extremely impatient in a morning and looks very annoyed at the fact that breakfast is never served on time, and then he has to wait at least 5 minutes before being taken out to the paddock. I wonder what his last slave died of?

Yesterday I ran out of apples for Bar-Os and climbed over the back to scrump some apples from an orchard that adjoins my garden. My heart was racing as I quickly picked a dozen or so fruit, convinced that the dirty deed would put an end to my aspirations of becoming a barrister and that I would find myself in the dock, branded nothing more than a common thief.

I'm not a big fan of the tv, as I always seem to end up studying on an evening, but this week I have been watching Criminal Justice and have quite enjoyed it. Just a pity that the tasty barrister got killed off so soon. Not sure that the barrister's clerk had an entirely healthy attitude to his 'master' - bit too incestuous for me.

Friday, 2 October 2009

They'll pinch anything

Someone has pinched Bar-Os' water trough!

There were two troughs in the paddock, one at the bottom end of the paddock, the other at the top. In order to pinch it, the the thief had to climb over a locked 5 bar gate, walk 300 metres down the paddock, uncouple it from the water main, empty it out and then carry it all the way back across the field, over the 5 bar gate and up the lane. How much are these water troughs? About £40 to buy brand new - hardly seems worth all the effort, particularly when you consider that I live at the back of beyond and the thief would have had to drive many miles to get here. It's a good job that I noticed the theft, as the uncoupled water pipe was bent over, but still leaking water. The troughs aren't very tall and the grass grows high around them, so they don't exactly stand out in the paddock.

I had that typical pregnant pause when I went to check the trough, and for a moment I stood looking around me, convinced that my eyes were playing tricks on me, and I even prodded the ground, convinced somehow that the trough was just playing hide and seek.  

My knees turned to jelly yesterday when I went to the paddock at lunchtime to check on Bar-Os and couldn't see him. My immediate thought was that he too had been stolen and I quickly unlocked the gate and went running into the paddock shouting. Bar-Os was extremely annoyed to have his 'bum-scratching-against-the-field-shelter', rudely interupted by an hysterical woman and promptly made known his feelings with a look that, quite frankly, made me feel about 3 inches tall:-)

Today I have to make a start on some more BVC homework, probably the Negotiation stuff. The case is one that we covered in Advocacy last year and concerns a wedding planner chasing an unpaid debt. I also have some Drafting homework to do, but I'm saving that one for a while, as I quite like Drafting and would prefer to get the stuff that I don't enjoy out of the way. I still haven't revisited Hearsay, but will make an effort sometime next week to get to grips with it.  

My enthusiasm for BVC hasn't returned and I'm finding that I have to force myself to study. I suppose this is perhaps one of the disadvantages of studying part-time, in that there is no-one to spur me on when things get a bit hard going.

Earlier this week I cobbled together some notes for the next Advocacy lessons, where I will have my first stab at Examination-in-Chief and also Cross-Examination.

Our mock exams begin next month and it looks as though the studying is very intense for a few months thereafter, with a combination of mock and real exams (I still can't get my head around 'formative' and 'summative'). The heaviest months are looking to be November through to February and I keep spurring myself on by saying that come next March I will be on the home run. I must admit that I am very disappointed in myself and my attitude at the moment with regard to studying, and it is a worry that I no longer enjoy it. I find that although I enjoy the studying during the study weekends, the vast amounts of solitary homework are nothing more than a chore.

Oh well, that is enough moaning from me, I must make a start on something useful.