Monday, 23 January 2017

English Law - our £25bn a year service asset

I'll bet that if I mention Carlill -v- Carbolic Smoke Ball Company at least half of you will get the reference. For any that don't, it's one of the first contract law cases that English professionals from all sectors learn when first at the teat of contract law & tort. I aced law, and kept up with it all through my professional career, through both the Times law reports and those in Estates Gazette. Over the years I've come not only to respect but to regard with a deep affection the wonderful, elegant and self-evolving way in which the corpus of civil law works in England and Wales. No other nation could have developed a separate, parallel stream of law such as Equity - a shield, not a sword - to use when the mainstream was lacking. And the Chancery barrister from whom I first learnt my law was equally in love with it all. My final act before I retired was to wholly resist a claim of £1m under NEC3 at adjudication with the law supplied by an eager young chap from one of the big city firms. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. There ain't nothing so elegant as a 300-item Scott schedule with our column totalling to zero. 

Anyway, that little encomium apart, the Standard recognises the importance of it all both to the City and nation;
The Justice Secretary, Liz Truss, identifies one of them today in her summit with leading law firms. She promised to protect Britain’s status as the world’s biggest legal capital — a status which is worth some £25 billion a year. More importantly, it adds to the country’s historic reputation for probity, integrity and fair dealing. English contract law has evolved over centuries and it is used in contracts between individuals and countries which have little to do with England or the UK. Then there is the  reputation for professionalism of the English legal profession and the independence and quality of the judiciary — however much the judges may occasionally irritate us. And if England is the centre of the legal world, London is the centre of the centre.

Our justice system could of course be improved, notably the efficiency of the courts. But the Government is right to do what it can to safeguard the lawyers’ position. It should sign up to the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements immediately after Brexit — it cannot do so while we are in the EU — and seek a replacement for Europe’s “Recast” rule. This is crucial. Let’s look to our strengths; right now we must make the most of them.
With English law, rather than Euro Napoleonic codes, forming the basis of North American and much of Asian-Pacific law, we are wise to pull it away from the perversion and debasement of inferior European jurisdiction. It is self healing, and the Euro errors of the last 40 years can be healed and absorbed. With TTIP dead in the water, and CETA peculiar to the Euro Napoleonic 27, we stand in good stead to continue as the world's tribunal capital. In relation to 'recast', Allen & Overy have published an opinion, but it can be summarised in their graphic 

Brussels Regulation: Article 23 Brussels Regulation (recast): Article 25
"If the parties, one or more of whom is domiciled in a Member State, have agreed that a court or the courts of a Member State are to have jurisdiction to settle any disputes which have arisen or which may arise in connection with a particular legal relationship, that court or those courts shall have jurisdiction. Such jurisdiction shall be exclusive unless the parties have agreed otherwise." "If the parties, regardless of their domicile, have agreed that a court or the courts of a Member State are to have jurisdiction to settle any disputes which have arisen or which may arise in connection with a particular legal relationship, that court or those courts shall have jurisdiction, unless the agreement is null and void as to its substantive validity under the law of that Member State. Such jurisdiction shall be exclusive unless the parties have agreed otherwise."

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Germany deeply resentful of Trump Presidency

If you thought the snowflake whining in the US and UK reached a pitch of irritation yesterday at Donald Trump's inauguration, this is as nothing compared to the wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments in Germany's government districts. Der Spiegel devotes an entire issue to Trump-hate and Trump-fear with no equivocation whatsoever - they make the post-truth Guardian look balanced. "Trump is the end of the world as we know it -- that much is clear", states the paper boldly. Trump's presidency is a particular problem for Germany for the following reasons;
  • Trump has previously identified Germany and Japan as the most prominent enemies of US manufacturing - "Our 'allies' are making billions screwing us" - blaming high state subsidies for aiding product development while free-riding on US defence expenditure. 
  • Trump knows that the EU is basically a vehicle for German hegemony and allows the sort of economic imperialism that enriches Germany at the expense of the southern states; he doesn't see this as a good thing
  • Germany leads Europe's demonisation of Russia. Quite why Germany fosters such hostility is a puzzle; she is safer from Russian military threat than at any time since 1949, yet still bullies the rest of the EU in maintaining sanctions when many EU members - notably the eastern nations and Austria - want to wind them down. Without strong US backing, Germany fears the EU will fracture on the sanctions issue, and Trump is no fan of the sanctions
  • On NATO and defence, Trump has made it clear he will not support the EU's free riding, and Germany will have to spend far more on her own defence. Add to this the lunatic narcissistic folie de grandeur in a Brussels that wants its own independent army and Trump's scepticism as to Germany's motives and it's clear a crisis is coming
  • The EU is planning to throw a huge 60th birthday party for itself in Rome in March - at a time when the UK is submitting Article 50 notification. Germany fears this could be the zenith of the EU's growth; Trump sees the reason for the EU is as an economic rival to the US, and he will try to split EU nations to weaken the risk. Already eastern nations in tune with Trump ideology are gaining confidence at defying German hegemony, and Berlin fears this will grow
  • Trump's direct criticism of Merkel's migrants policy and his identification of Islam as the greatest threat to western civilisation undermine Germany's policy of destroying European national identity to create a homogeneous consumer mass with no allegiances for the benefit of the global corporates. Germany fears that the resurgence of both American and British patriotism will encourage the EU's satrap states to rediscover their national identities.
Underlying all of this is a deep existential angst that America is now challenging the illiberal consensus of central State control, bullying and coercion. The very last thing that administrators such as Merkel want is a reversal of the policy so eloquently catalogued by Brendan O'Neill:-
It happened because you banned super-size sodas. And smoking in parks. And offensive ideas on campus. Because you branded people who oppose gay marriage ‘homophobic’, and people unsure about immigration ‘racist’.

Because you treated owning a gun and never having eaten quinoa as signifiers of fascism. Because you thought correcting people’s attitudes was more important than finding them jobs. Because you turned ‘white man’ from a description into an insult. Because you used slurs like ‘denier’ and ‘dangerous’ against anyone who doesn’t share your eco-pieties.

Because you treated dissent as hate speech and criticism of Obama as extremism. Because you talked more about gender-neutral toilets than about home repossessions. Because you beatified Caitlyn Jenner. Because you policed people’s language, rubbished their parenting skills, took the piss out of their beliefs.

Because you cried when someone mocked the Koran but laughed when they mocked the Bible. Because you said criticising Islam is Islamophobia. Because you kept telling people, ‘You can’t think that, you can’t say that, you can’t do that.’

Because you turned politics from something done by and for people to something done to them, for their own good. Because you treated people like trash. And people don’t like being treated like trash. Trump happened because of you.

Friday, 20 January 2017

The joys of Localism

Scotland is large scale proof that Localism works. As the Telegraph reports, Sturgeon is making an absolute cods of running the place; business rates through the roof, high income tax, dearth of investment and a failure to deliver the improvements in life quality that this all was promised to bring. And now she is being made dole monitor. Welfare spend is the latest bit of government to be devolved, and Nicola is wriggling like a drowning worm to find ways to distract the Scots from her new and unpopular rationing role. I suspect the canny Scots will kick Sturgeon out the next time they are let near the ballot box.

And so to Surrey County Council, which will ballot its citizens over a 15% rate rise to pay for old people's homes (not that they're called that any more - they're social care establishments or something). The vote may depend on how officious the Council has been in issuing parking tickets, nagging people about using the right bins or telling them not to smoke. The people of Surrey may well say no, and encourage the Council to lose even more staff. 

That these exhibitions of growing Localist importance are possible despite the dilettante Cameron rather than because of him is extraordinary. Cameron promised Localism in 2010 but delivered a change as insipid and homeopathic as the pre-referendum offer he brought back from Brussels. That man really was himself a useless streak. 

Still, more please. The closer we move to the Swiss model of devolved tax and spend the better, to the extent that central government commands barely a third of tax income to pay for essential and truly national agencies of the State. And the more that local politicians are held to account by local people the better - not Little Britain, but the hallmark of a great nation.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Is Soros behind anti-democratic Brexit law suits?

Whilst the secret funding behind Gina Miller's attempts to subvert the will of the British people is still mired in mists of secrecy, four more stooges and plants have popped up to use someone's secret funds to try to derail Brexit by law. Only these stooges don't fancy the publicity - so have asked if they can bring their secret funded case under conditions of, er, secrecy.

I strongly suspect that Soros is behind all this. Soros wants British national identity to be destroyed and replaced by a homogeneous consumer lumpen mass with no competing allegiances who will surrender to the serfdom of the global corporates. He has funded street violence, nihilistic 'actions' and the no-borders idiots and, in a campaign of social attrition, every day provokes small acts of disorder and fear. He is a thoroughly evil old man and the enemy of the United Kingdom.

Well, we have no great history of secret justice in England, and no reason why the latest stooges should sneak around like thieves in the night hidden from daylight and public view. If they believe in their cause, rather than in the pieces of silver with which their backer has stuffed their mouths, let them come forward.

And I don't know whether they seek an equitable remedy, but I once learnt that he 'who comes to equity must come with clean hands' - and it's a good principle also for those who seek to challenge the will of the majority of the British people. Let's see 'em. Let the papers get digging and chase the money. We need to uncover the seditious dogs behind them.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

No more Courgettes, thank you

Back in the late '70s and in the last year of my teens I bought my first home - a two-up two-down Suffolk flint rubble cottage with pantile roof, massive open hearth that dominated the parlour and a large plot with half a dozen apple trees. It cost £5,750. This was the age of Richard Mabey's 'Food for Free' and a sort of trancey sun-dappled hippyish 'back to the garden' ethos. So I kept hens under the apple trees, brewed beer and grew food while in an undemanding student job. 

That was my gap two-years - though we didn't know the term. One of my horticultural successes were courgettes. I was advised to line a long trench with old newspapers before mounding soil over and planting. The Sun shone. I was a diligent waterer when sober. I had such a glut of courgettes that in the end even the hens wouldn't eat them. I couldn't give them away to Suffolk natives, whose closest experience was of stuffed and roasted marrows. Friends shunned me in case I arrived bearing a box of courgettes for them. I had no recipes for jam or pickle - this was pre-internet. All Summer and well into the Autumn the bloody things just popped up and swelled their little bodies and still I felt obliged to pick them and not waste them. Well, after that, it was fifteen years before I could face a courgette again. 

With many thanks to whoever recommended David Archibald's Twilight of Abundance - so far, I'm about 70 pages in, and it's uncompromisingly depressing. I hope it has a happy ending. Its cataloguing of the arguments in favour of global cooling, a reduction of between 1° and 3° in Europe, may mean big changes in food growing. And shortages. So when I saw this article in today's Guardian I thought immediately of my fecund Anglian earth back in the heat of the '70s;

The Guardian of course fails to use the cold snap (weather) as a useful segue to discuss global cooling (climate). And will no doubt continue to do so as crops fail for real all over Europe's salad belt. Hey ho.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Russia - good fences and good neighbours

At the home in which I grew up, our plot was separated from the narrow country road that ran along a boundary by a 2m wide strip that belonged to Suffolk County Council. It was annoyance at the Council's lack of maintenance that drove my mother to add its grooming to my boyhood task-list of mowing and trimming. So for a length of 70 or 80m as the road ran alongside our land, an unkempt, blowsy country roadside assumed a neatly trimmed tidiness. It took three or four years for the Council to twig that we were maintaining their roadside - whereupon, they started regularly to send out a maintenance gang to pre-empt my efforts.

My mother took it as a sign that local bureaucracy was amenable to her own particular form of 'nudge', and was happy that she had a neat boundary. I was happy at losing the task of maintaining it. Now, of course, I realise that the Council had been prompted not by a sense of obligation to a ratepayer but from fear that if we maintained it for 12 years and they didn't, we could claim ownership of the 2m strip from them through adverse possession. I'm glad my mother had no knowledge of this quirk in British law - it would have prompted her to surreptitiously expand on all borders. 

And so with Russia. Russia will expand in any direction that is not clearly and signally defended and 'owned'. That includes land, sea and air. It doesn't make Russia any more of an enemy than cutting a verge made me an enemy of Suffolk County Council; Russia acts in a very proper Adam Smith type of economic self-interest. And peace is best served by NATO and the UK maintaining forces, fleets and air patrol and response capacities that signal clearly and without doubt where the boundaries are. A minimum of 2% of GDP but ideally for the United Kingdom, a spend that gives us a standing army of 100,000 men and a fleet of 50 warships. 

That Russia also must be an ally in the coming conflict with African mass migration, Islamist aggression and Malthusian challenges doesn't mean we shouldn't also keep clear boundaries and military parity in sight. The EU of course is blind to the realpolitik and risks conflict through its insane territorial ambitions - a dangerous stupidity that needs the UK's level head to counter. If Theresa May makes Presidents Putin and Trump her key diplomatic priorities, she is doing absolutely the right thing.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Vaclav Klaus pierces EU pomposity again

The EU's pomposity and Folie de Grandeur needs pricking from time to time if only to suppress the Federation's insufferable senior unelected official, the egregious Herr Juncker. The former Czech President Vaclav Klaus does the job superbly;
I am a very known critic of the European integration process, everyone knows it, so it will be no surprise to hear from me that I am not so happy with what has been going on, and I was very much in favour - it was still in the dark communist days - I was really in favour of the European integration process, but this process has been switched, transformed by the Maastricht treaty, 25 years ago, and especially now by the Lisbon Treaty, later, to something totally different, and I call this a move from integration to unification. This was the beginning of the negative, wrong development, as I see it.
Klaus has previously provoked a walk-out of snowflake MEPs during a speech in which he said
There is also a great distance (not only in a geographical sense) between citizens and Union representatives, which is much greater than is the case inside the member countries. This distance is often described as the democratic deficit, the loss of democratic accountability, the decision-making of the unelected – but selected – ones, as bureaucratisation of decision-making etc. The proposals to change the current state of affairs – included in the rejected European Constitution or in the not much different Lisbon Treaty – would make this defect even worse. Since there is no European demos – and no European nation – this defect cannot be solved by strengthening the role of the European Parliament, either
It is difficult for the Establishment to brand a Czech anti-totalitarian warrior, who as a child resisted the Nazis and as an adult helped topple Communism, as a right-wing nutter or a fascist; as President of a NATO country he was also privy to highest level defence secrets, so hard to brand him as uninformed. Klaus is that rarest of creatures in Europe these days - a Statesman. 

I commend the RT interview - and I'll be clearing snow this morning with a smile.