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I Quit...

Ever seen someone write "i think im going to quit facebook"? And did you say to yourself something like this; "If you were going to do it you would have done it now, stop attention seeking"? I know i have.

Another irrelevant cat picture
Have you ever been on the other side? Have you ever felt so alone that you decide to do something dramatic to remind people that you're alive? I know i have.

These are the two sides of the same coin, and every day we flip the coin and the outcome is as random as flipping a 20 pence piece. Unfortunately when your on one side of the coin, you cant see the other...and this is why the lonely side can be so isolating.

Facebook quitting is the mild end of the scale...on the more serious end of the scale is suicide attempts. Take a read of the first 15 or so comments on this status message from Northamptonshire Police facebook page. The behavior is disgusting...but what it has shown me is that mental health is exactly like a coin. While on one side, you cannot think like the other...and how you feel each day can be as random as flipping a coin.

So how do we support someone who is 'quitting facebook'? Over to you...

Legal Cheek: Top 5 iphone apps for law students

Hi everyone,

I have written this article for Alex Aldridge's new blog Legal Cheek...had a great response from it there so with Alex's permission i wanted to republish it here. Great titles added by Alex. Hope you enjoy.

I now have the pleasure of being in possession of an iphone 4. And, having played with it constantly since I got it, I can’t imagine how I ever managed without one. It’s the apps that make the iphone so epic, so I’m going to share with you five of them – a mix of free and paid ones – that I think are ideal for wannabe lawyers.

The anti-procrastinator
iStudiez Pro £2.99
This one is aimed at the student who wants to keep their life in order. It provides you with the opportunity to manage your work and life, but entails a fair degree of commitment. Still, if you put the effort in, it works; I use it and it has helped me take control of my procrastination a little bit more.

The PA

Springpad Free
This is easily the most customisable and comprehensive ‘life management’ tool I’ve come across. It works on the list concept, but using notes, photos, barcodes, audio and map locations to widen the scope beyond that of similar tools. You can use it to create, for example, shopping lists, alarms, contacts, albums, bookmarks and recipes.


The password fairy
Keeper  Free / £6.99
I find keeping track of passwords a nightmare, and I know I’m not the only one. In order to remember all these passwords, we often pick a very memorable word, and use that same password for all our logins. It may make life easier for us, but it leaves us vulnerable to security breachs. It takes seconds for a hacker to breach passwords, so steps need to be taken to protect yourself. This Keeper application creates strong passwords and keeps them on your phone in a locked and encrypted piece of software. Don’t worry about losing your phone as the software backs itself up.

The overdraft alarm
PageOnce Free
PageOnce is an application that securely logs into your online banking and provides you with a fully up to date itemised statement. I love it because it’s very quick to do, gives a lot of detail, and sends me a notification if I reach my overdraft…which I do way too often!

The mobile law library
CrimeLine Law £1.99
This is the best application I have ever come across. It contains precedents, statutes, consultation papers and much more. For £1.99 you have easy access to every piece of case law and legislation you could possibly need. The best way to show you how huge this app is by drawing you a map of a part of it:
  • England and Wales
    • Case Law
    • Welsh Legislation
      • Statutory Instruments
      • Measures by the Assembly
      • Law Commission Reports
  • Europe
    • Case Law from ECJ and ECtHR

Conventions

I feel really sorry for Brodie Clarke, former head of UKBA. He has been the victim of an ambitious yet incompetent Home Secretary who has used him as a convenient scapegoat. What this shows us about the current government is that they care more for the politics of politics than the politics of the people.

It raises an interesting discussion in my mind about the place of constitutional conventions. There are a handful of sources of English law, one of which is constitutional conventions. These are a set of unwritten rules that are binding on those effected by them. For example; collective cabinet responsibility. This convention is binding on members of the Cabinet, and requires that they tow the party line regardless of their opinion. When they do disagree with the party line they face a dilemma; either shut up or jog on.

Dr Evil finally tracked down in a London back street
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The one that comes to mind in the UKBA situation is that of individual ministerial responsibility. The convention goes that the minister of state takes total responsibility for the actions of their department, even when they are not at fault. We have lost many good MPs at the hands of this convention, and I would go as far as saying that it was partly responsible for the failings of the Brown government...but that's a discussion for another day.

The thing about conventions is that they are only binding for as long as those effected by them allow them to be. I know of only one other occasion when the convention was successfully sidelined, and that was in the 70's when Michael Howard was Home Secretary. The point is that these conventions exist for a reason and Theresa May has colluded with David Cameron to breach it.

Another compounding issue comes from the Home Office itself and we can give Theresa May, and other Home Secretaries, a bit of breathing space when it comes to mistakes. The causes are numerous, but here are a few examples. It is the largest department, it effects everyone in the country, and millions of people outside the country. The responsibilities sail parallel to Human Rights principles...which are immature principles that are constantly being developed and there can be failings in clarity and predictability. Where mistakes are made they have direct effects on peoples futures, and so often people can lose their lives as a result. Lastly, the balance between what is right for the individual and what is deemed right for the country is subject to interference by  Its a well known problem, which was helped by the formation of the Ministry of Justice, but it is still not capable of being competently managed by any Minister...this is why we lose so many Home Secretaries.

The epic task of managing the department leads to mistakes...how those mistakes are handled determine the future. Theresa May has two decisions; take responsibility and resign, or breach the convention and stand her ground.

Maybe we need a binding document that protects conventions, 'irregardless' of their effects?

Peelian Principles

Yesterday I brought you a translation of the Magna Carta, today; Peel's principles.

I've been taking you back to the founding principles of law and policing for a reason. There is a lot of debate on the way demonstrations are policed.

As with every legal argument, the issue is one of balance. On the one hand we must encourage and facilitate our right to protest. On the other hand, where law and order is at risk as a result of the exercise of this right a police response is required. Why is it required? I'm not going to answer this myself; I will let you decide for yourself based on peeling principles. I think principle number 4 is particularly interesting when held against the tactic of kettling. I also like number 9. Let me know your opinions on its relevance to modern policing.

"1. The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.

2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.

3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.

4. The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.

5. Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.

6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.

7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence

8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.

9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it."

Excuse the lack of formatting, I'm writing this while on my break at work.

Armistice Day

This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.  Elmer Davis

I see Armistice Day as both a day to remember those who have died, and a reminder that we owe it to those lost to be ready to defend freedom again. Let us hope it never costs so much again.

Document Spotlight: Magna Carta

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The Magna Carta is a document that i often hear refered to when studying human rights and governance, but i've never actually read it. If i'm honest, before i started studying law i didnt think it actually existed. Even when i discovered its existence i have never really taken the time to read it. So i thought i would take the time to do so, and publish it in full for you to enjoy. It is a very very long document, but due to its constitutional significance i wasnt happy to deviate from the translation.

I'd love to hear your opinion on it. Does the spirit of the document still live on? Has it become outdated? Are there any articles that could be misinterpreted and misquoted for other purposes?

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Preamble: John, by the grace of God, king of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and count of Anjou, to the archbishop, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justiciaries, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his bailiffs and liege subjects, greetings. Know that, having regard to God and for the salvation of our soul, and those of all our ancestors and heirs, and unto the honor of God and the advancement of his holy Church and for the rectifying of our realm, we have granted as underwritten by advice of our venerable fathers, Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England and cardinal of the holy Roman Church, Henry, archbishop of Dublin, William of London, Peter of Winchester, Jocelyn of Bath and Glastonbury, Hugh of Lincoln, Walter of Worcester, William of Coventry, Benedict of Rochester, bishops; of Master Pandulf, subdeacon and member of the household of our lord the Pope, of brother Aymeric (master of the Knights of the Temple in England), and of the illustrious men William Marshal, earl of Pembroke, William, earl of Salisbury, William, earl of Warenne, William, earl of Arundel, Alan of Galloway (constable of Scotland), Waren Fitz Gerold, Peter Fitz Herbert, Hubert De Burgh (seneschal of Poitou), Hugh de Neville, Matthew Fitz Herbert, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset, Philip d'Aubigny, Robert of Roppesley, John Marshal, John Fitz Hugh, and others, our liegemen.

1. In the first place we have granted to God, and by this our present charter confirmed for us and our heirs forever that the English Church shall be free, and shall have her rights entire, and her liberties inviolate; and we will that it be thus observed; which is apparent from this that the freedom of elections, which is reckoned most important and very essential to the English Church, we, of our pure and unconstrained will, did grant, and did by our charter confirm and did obtain the ratification of the same from our lord, Pope Innocent III, before the quarrel arose between us and our barons: and this we will observe, and our will is that it be observed in good faith by our heirs forever. We have also granted to all freemen of our kingdom, for us and our heirs forever, all the underwritten liberties, to be had and held by them and their heirs, of us and our heirs forever.

2. If any of our earls or barons, or others holding of us in chief by military service shall have died, and at the time of his death his heir shall be full of age and owe "relief", he shall have his inheritance by the old relief, to wit, the heir or heirs of an earl, for the whole barony of an earl by �100; the heir or heirs of a baron, �100 for a whole barony; the heir or heirs of a knight, 100s, at most, and whoever owes less let him give less, according to the ancient custom of fees.

3. If, however, the heir of any one of the aforesaid has been under age and in wardship, let him have his inheritance without relief and without fine when he comes of age.

4. The guardian of the land of an heir who is thus under age, shall take from the land of the heir nothing but reasonable produce, reasonable customs, and reasonable services, and that without destruction or waste of men or goods; and if we have committed the wardship of the lands of any such minor to the sheriff, or to any other who is responsible to us for its issues, and he has made destruction or waster of what he holds in wardship, we will take of him amends, and the land shall be committed to two lawful and discreet men of that fee, who shall be responsible for the issues to us or to him to whom we shall assign them; and if we have given or sold the wardship of any such land to anyone and he has therein made destruction or waste, he shall lose that wardship, and it shall be transferred to two lawful and discreet men of that fief, who shall be responsible to us in like manner as aforesaid.
5. The guardian, moreover, so long as he has the wardship of the land, shall keep up the houses, parks, fishponds, stanks, mills, and other things pertaining to the land, out of the issues of the same land; and he shall restore to the heir, when he has come to full age, all his land, stocked with ploughs and wainage, according as the season of husbandry shall require, and the issues of the land can reasonable bear.

6. Heirs shall be married without disparagement, yet so that before the marriage takes place the nearest in blood to that heir shall have notice.

7. A widow, after the death of her husband, shall forthwith and without difficulty have her marriage portion and inheritance; nor shall she give anything for her dower, or for her marriage portion, or for the inheritance which her husband and she held on the day of the death of that husband; and she may remain in the house of her husband for forty days after his death, within which time her dower shall be assigned to her.

8. No widow shall be compelled to marry, so long as she prefers to live without a husband; provided always that she gives security not to marry without our consent, if she holds of us, or without the consent of the lord of whom she holds, if she holds of another.

9. Neither we nor our bailiffs will seize any land or rent for any debt, as long as the chattels of the debtor are sufficient to repay the debt; nor shall the sureties of the debtor be distrained so long as the principal debtor is able to satisfy the debt; and if the principal debtor shall fail to pay the debt, having nothing wherewith to pay it, then the sureties shall answer for the debt; and let them have the lands and rents of the debtor, if they desire them, until they are indemnified for the debt which they have paid for him, unless the principal debtor can show proof that he is discharged thereof as against the said sureties.

10. If one who has borrowed from the Jews any sum, great or small, die before that loan be repaid, the debt shall not bear interest while the heir is under age, of whomsoever he may hold; and if the debt fall into our hands, we will not take anything except the principal sum contained in the bond.


Hurdle 24: Optimise Oprimise Optimise

Blogging about blogging has always been a very self indulgent pass time of mine. 23 'hurdles' articles later and i still cant resist the temptation to share these little gold nuggets of advice to you bloggers types. As always, this article is based on my own mistakes and i hope it will help you avoid making the same.

Do you enjoy my numerous cat photos?
I presume you do...
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A blog is very much like a shark, if it stops moving it dies. Blogs don't suddenly become popular...it takes a lot of trial and error, patience, self discipline and perseverance to achieve even the most moderately popular blog like DJ has become. Using DJ as an example; it has been constantly evolving since the first blog post i wrote way back in February 2011. It started as an un-named blog, then became 'No Such Word As Kan't', and then Diet Justice. The brand has evolved, the objectives and topics have evolved, and more importantly the content has evolved. The evolution of content is born out of experience, feedback, life experiences and the process of learning from your own mistakes. It is the very process of evolution that turns one persons ramblings into a popular blog.

Unfortunately evolution is very messy. However, messy isn't always a bad thing...in blogging the messiness of evolution becomes tradition, personality, character and makes each blogger very unique. But when it comes to design evolution, it can have a hugely negative effect on your readers enjoyment. For example; earlier on today i did a quick speed check on DJ and found that it took over a minute from request to completion. This is way above the average, most pages will complete loading in under 3 seconds.

The tool i used to assess the speed of DJ was Pingdom. It is easily the best tool out there as it can easily show you which elements on a particular page are taking the longest to load. The offending items on the main Dj page were mainly images...images that were hidden away at the bottom of the page, and added no value to the reader experience. I was able to completely get rid of them and reduce the load time to hardly anything at all.

You have to approch page optimisation from a balanced position. On the one hand you need to ensure the page is loading as quickly as possible, but on the other hand some of the best features of a web page can take a while to load. Having removed all the slow loading images i was left with the 'Top Posts' box which was still very slow to load. So what do you do if you have a code that is slow, but essential to your site?

To some extend you have to accept that the page will load a bit slower...however here are a couple of things to try;

  • Reinstall the feature again. Developers are constantly updating their coding, and sometimes the updates only take effect when the code is reinstalled.
  • Speak to the developer directly...there may be some aspects of the feature that can be turned off or optimised in order to speed it up.

So my point is; evolve or die...but optimise optimise optimise. Happy blogging!

Press Release: Jones v Kernott / Man loses appeal in property split

I get the occasional press release, and this one jumped out at me as something I thought you would be interested in.

09.11.11 -- Catherine Thomas, Director at leading law firm Vardags, which last year won the Radmacher case on prenups, says:

"The Supreme Court today ruled that where cohabiting couples own their home in equal shares, the court can declare that a change in circumstances (often as a result of the breakdown of that relationship) has caused the ownership to change, even when the parties did not expressly agree to such a change. In this case that change was significant; from 50/50 to 90/10 in favour of the person who remained in the house.

"Many cohabiting couples who have decided not to marry will be surprised to learn that the court can impute an intention to them, which they may never have actually had, by looking into their behaviour over the entire relationship. In deciding to attribute to the parties the share of the property the court believes is �fair�, rather than what was actually agreed, it is moving towards the approach more traditionally seen in divorce.

"With more than 50% of children now being born outside of marriage in the UK, this case emphasises the importance of cohabiting couples obtaining proper legal advice both before purchasing a property together and in the event that the relationship breaks down. Failure to do so risks expensive litigation as the court considers property ownership in the context of the whole of the relationship."

Five Supreme Court justices allowed an appeal by hairdresser Patricia Jones against an earlier ruling that ice-cream salesman Leonard Kernott was entitled to 50% of the value of the property in Thundersley, Essex - valued at �245,000 in 2008.

They said Ms Jones, of Thundersley, was entitled to 90% and Mr Kernott, of Benfleet, Essex, should get 10%.

The ruling, which followed a hearing in London, was the conclusion of a three-year legal battle, which had seen lawyers argue in a county court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court."