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United Kingdom

Growing out of the press-hacking scandal that has stirred so much outrage: “one of the key hackers mentioned in the report has admitted that 80 per cent of his client list was taken up by law firms, wealthy individuals and insurance firms while only 20 per cent of clients were from the media. … the most common industry employing criminal private detectives is understood to be law firms, including some of those involved in high-end matrimonial proceedings and litigators investigating fraud on behalf of private clients.” [Independent]

“Plans to ban the pint glass from pubs throughout the Highlands of Scotland have sparked outrage. The traditional vessel is already outlawed in nightclubs in the Highlands, which are forced to serve all drinks – including champagne, cocktails and the finest malt whiskies – in plastic containers after 9pm because of police fears over potential injury.” The Highland Licensing Board is now proposing to extend the scheme further, against objections from pub owners as well as critics of the Nanny State generally. [Telegraph]

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Life without a First Amendment: “Eleven people across UK arrested for making ‘racist or anti-religious’ comments on Facebook and Twitter about British soldier’s death” [Daily Mail (with notice: "Sorry, we are unable to accept comments for legal reasons"), more, The Lincolnite; Eugene Volokh (quoting British police: "People should stop and think about what they say on social media before making statements as the consequences could be serious")]

On a happier note, with regard to countering objectionable speech, the BBC reports that when members of the nativist English Defence League organized a gathering outside a mosque in the city of York, worshipers brought out tea and cookies and invited them inside for a chat.

Data point 2 about free speech in Britain: 11 lawyers have signed a letter in the Guardian “threatening supermarkets with immediate legal action” unless they remove from sale “lad’s mags,” men’s magazines that are anathema to feminist campaigners. “Displaying these publications in workplaces, and/or requiring staff to handle them in the course of their jobs, may amount to sex discrimination and sexual harassment contrary to the Equality Act 2010,” it says. “Similarly, exposing customers to these publications in the process of displaying them is capable of giving rise to breaches of the Equality Act.” [Guardian; Toby Young, Telegraph; ITV] Young points out that reported incidents of domestic violence have fallen quite sharply since lad’s mags became popular in the 1990s, making nonsense of claims that the publications somehow promote male aggression. For the campaigners, writes Toby Young, “this is simply about preventing men – predominantly working-class men – from buying magazines that they consider vulgar and in poor taste.”

More in comments from Bill Poser: “Here’s another: police in Wales ordered a shop-keeper to remove T-shirts saying ‘Obey our laws, respect our beliefs, or go back to your own country.’”

And from the “It Can’t Happen Here” department: “Justice Department to Hold Seminar Warning Against the Legal ‘Consequences’ of Anti-Muslim Speech.” Let’s hope there’s some reporting error here.

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Traditional refillable open-spouted vessels and dipping bowls will need to give way to “pre-packaged, factory bottles with a tamper-proof dispensing nozzle and labeling in line with EU industrial standards.” [Bruno Waterfield, Daily Telegraph] In perhaps not unrelated news, a new poll finds Euroskepticism strong in the U.K. [Telegraph]:

When voters are asked the exact question Conservatives want to put to the public in the 2017 referendum, “Do you think that the UK should remain a member of the EU?”, 46 per cent opt to come out, a higher figure than in other recent polls, while just 30 per cent want to stay in.

Update: May 23 (proposal dropped).

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You’d think if anyone owned the phrase, it would be Her Majesty’s Government or, failing that, the bookselling couple in the North of England who brought the W.W. II-vintage poster back from obscurity. But one former TV producer has different ideas, and would like to own the rights. [CBS News (autoplays; I've removed the previously embedded video because I couldn't disable autoplay); earlier]

An immigration judge has ruled that the British government cannot deport convicted drug dealer Hesham Ali, who has never been in the country legally, because he has a girlfriend and making him leave would therefore violate his “right to family life” under the Human Rights Act [Telegraph]:

He convinced a judge he had a “family life” which had to be respected because he had a “genuine” relationship with a British woman – despite already having two children by different women with whom he now has no contact.

Ali also mounted an extraordinary claim that his life would be in danger in his native Iraq because he was covered in tattoos, including a half-naked Western woman – a claim which was only dismissed after exhaustive legal examination.

Meanwhile, Ted Frank argues that the case of the Tsarnaev family points up the longstanding problem of dubious or fraudulent asylum claims [Point of Law]

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  • We’re worth it: lawyers in credit card case want judge to award them $720 million [Alison Frankel, Reuters] Johnson & Johnson will fight $181 million payday for private lawyers in Arkansas Risperdal case [Legal NewsLine]
  • British Columbia, Canada: “Lawyer Ordered To Pay Costs Personally For ‘Shoddy Piece Of Counsel Work’” [Erik Magraken] Ontario client questions lawyer’s fee [Law Times]
  • Sixth Circuit: attorneys fees statute not intended to cover dry cleaning and mini-blinds [Legal Ethics Forum]
  • Indiana lawmaker goes back to drawing board on loser-pays bill [Indiana Law Blog]
  • ‘Shocked’ by $3M legal fee in fatal car-crash case, judge tells lawyers to pay plaintiff lawyer $50K [ABA Journal]
  • Seth Katsuya Endo, “Should Evidence of Settlement Negotiations Affect Attorneys’ Fees Awards?” [SSRN via Legal Ethics Forum] /li>
  • In Israel, more of a discretionary loser-pays arrangement [Eisenberg et al, SSRN via @tedfrank]
  • British cabbie beats ticket, recovers only some of his legal costs. Still better than he’d do here, right? [Daily Mail]
  • Turnaround guru Wilbur Ross: current structure of bankruptcy fees encourages lawyer “hyperactivity” [Reuters]

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The chairman of the Dan yr Ogof group of tourist attractions in South Wales is threatening to sue Britain’s National Weather Service over “misleading predictions of bad weather which later do not materialize … Forecasts of Good Friday snow for the Swansea Valley area saw a rash of booking cancellations at the attraction, he said. But while coach parties [= tour buses] made other arrangements, the day turned out to be one of blazing sun and blue skies, although quite cold.” [Press Association/Yahoo; Sarah Rae Fruchtnicht, Opposing Views]

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This is totally appalling: “The European Union is quietly pouring millions of pounds into initiatives and groups seeking state-backed regulation of the press, including key allies of the controversial Hacked Off campaign.” [Andrew Gilligan, Telegraph]

“Steely,” “indomitable,” and endlessly quotable: I’ve got a blog post up at Cato about her life and career. BBC Radio 5 liked it and will be interviewing me this evening about her.

P.S. Among other views, Ira Stoll relates her success in cutting tax rates while bolstering government finance, and Jesse Walker wonders whether she actually was as ideologically distinctive as all that on issues like deregulation. And as often happens, the subject of Mrs. T. brings out Andrew Sullivan in good form.

Audio from BBC 5:

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Thetford, Norfolk, U.K.: “A man who dialled 999 fearing a burglary at his petrol station is being sued by the policewoman who answered the call because she fell on the premises.” The officer, Kelly Jones, claims that Steve Jones did not adequately light the gas station or take adequate care for her safety in other ways. [SkyNews, BBC] On the chipping away on this side of the Atlantic of the historic “firefighter’s rule,” which has kept rescuers from suing private parties over injuries sustained in the course of their rescues, see our tag on the subject as well as individual posts (cops sue schizophrenic gunman’s mother; Florida cop sues family over slip-fall after rescuing baby.)

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Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on March 27, 2013

  • Alarms re: proposed new UK code to regulate press, both print and electronic [John O'Sullivan, Andrew Stuttaford] “Why we won’t sign the press-regulation Charter” [The Spectator: Nick Cohen]
  • Also from the UK: “Police investigate Conservative MP Tim Loughton for calling man ‘unkempt’” [Telegraph]
  • “Teenager arrested for tweeting rap lyric containing the word ‘homicide.’” [Ann Althouse]
  • “CNN Argues that Requiring Captioning of Web Videos Would Violate Free Speech” [Disability Law, Courthouse News; more on new web accessibility push]
  • Administrator at Yeshiva U. hires lawyer to get posts removed from prominent law blogs, Streisand Effect ensues [Scott Greenfield]
  • Philly Mayor Michael Nutter sends letter to city human relations commission demanding investigation of Philadelphia Magazine for publishing article he dislikes [Ken at Popehat, Hans Bader]

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Ethics roundup

by Walter Olson on February 4, 2013

  • His own bad deal to make: client can’t sue lawyer for malpractice after lawsuit lending swallows up proceeds of $150K settlement [BNA]
  • U.K. legal representation: “John Flood looks at the cab rank rule” [Legal Ethics Forum, more]
  • Drumming up business: “Junk fax class action may proceed despite attorney misconduct” [Reuters]
  • “Personal Injury Lawyers Sue Other Personal Injury Lawyers Over Solicitation” [Turkewitz, more]
  • Manipulating time records to qualify for bonus proves costly for Wisconsin attorney [Volokh]
  • Lawyer profile: “Defender of the Notorious, and Now Himself” [NY Times]
  • Local prosecutors connive at debt-collection abuses thanks to 2006 legal provision [LA Weekly]

Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on January 22, 2013

  • “City to pay $22.5 million to bipolar woman released in high-crime area” [Chicago Sun-Times, Greenfield]
  • On Medicaid settlement clawback evasion, Obama acts in line with wishes of both plaintiff’s and defense sides, though against interests of federal Treasury [Ted Frank] Michael Greve on Delia v. EMA, the Medicaid recoupment case before SCOTUS [Law and Liberty]
  • From Sasha Volokh, a Glee-ful Torts exam [Volokh]
  • Congrats to Abnormal Use, repeat winner in Torts category of ABA Journal Blawg 100;
  • UK: personal injury firms say they’ll need to lay off workers if government carries through on reform of civil suits [Law Gazette]
  • “How the First Amendment affects tort law” [Beck, Drug and Device Law]
  • Bummer: after involuntary pot brownie incident, lawsuit names club where incident took place [NJLRA]

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Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on January 18, 2013

  • Spirit Airlines v. DOT: “Government Can’t Silence Speech Criticizing Its Actions, Even If That Speech Is ‘Commercial’” [Ilya Shapiro/Sophie Cole, Cato]
  • Virginia Supreme Court speedily rejects prior restraint against Yelp review [Paul Alan Levy, Volokh, earlier]
  • Why schools crack down on speech [Hans Bader]
  • “Mann v. Steyn — CEI SLAPPs Back” [Adler, earlier]
  • Hellhole jurisdictions? “The seven countries where the state can execute you for being atheist” [Max Fisher, WaPo] “Egyptian court sentences Christian family to 15 years for converting from Islam” [FoxNews] Pakistan mob burns man accused of desecrating Koran alive [Reuters] And see, via Volokh, blasphemy penalties from Tunisia (seven years for posting Mohammed cartoons) and Egypt.
  • “Congressman-Elect Kerry Bentivolio Sued Me For Calling Him a ‘Deadbeat Santa’” [Mike Betzold, Deadline Detroit]
  • UK government agrees to rollback of law criminalizing insults [Telegraph, Independent]

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  • UK: Jack Shafer on the trouble with the Leveson press inquiry [Reuters] Journos already cowed by hostile press laws: “Even foreign dictatorships know how to frighten Fleet Street.” [Spectator] “Even people who RT’d libelous allusions to [him] on Twitter could be sued. … surreal” [BoingBoing, Popehat]
  • Calling people names in Hanna, Alberta, or cheering on those who do, can now expose you to penalties under anti-bullying ordinance [Sun News]
  • “Britain’s High-Tech Thought Police” [Brendan O'Neill] Related, Rowan Atkinson [Telegraph]
  • Language muscle in Quebec: “After series of fire-bombings, Second Cup coffee shops added the words ‘les cafes’ to signs” [Yahoo Canada]
  • Blasphemy law around the world: Vexed with their speech, Egyptian court sentences to death in absentia various persons living in US and Canada [Volokh] “Turkish TV channel fined for ‘The Simpsons’ blasphemy episode” [Telegraph] After using Facebook to criticize politico’s funeral, women in India arrested for “hurting religious sentiments” [AFP] Indonesian man jailed, attacked by mob for writing “God does not exist” on Facebook group [Andrew Stuttaford, Secular Right] “A year of blasphemy” [Popehat]
  • Protesters block student access to “men’s-rights” speech at U. Toronto [Joshua Kennon via @amyalkon]

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December 4 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 4, 2012

  • Wendy Murphy brings her believe-the-accuser shtick to the University of Virginia [KC Johnson, Minding the Campus]
  • UK: foster parents in Rotherham might want to take care not to belong to the wrong political party [Telegraph]
  • “The Disappearance of Civil Trial in the United States” [John Langbein, Yale Law Journal & SSRN]
  • “Liability Is ‘Wrong’ Solution for Rating Agencies” [Mark Calabria, Cato at Liberty] Mere days later: “Sixth Circuit Rejects Ohio Pension Fund Suit Against Rating Agencies” [Adler]
  • “Yes, it is now illegal to be fully nude in San Francisco *unless you are in a parade*” [Lowering the Bar]
  • Once lionized in press: “Former Ohio AG Loses Law License for 6 Months Over Ethics Violations While In Office” [ABA Journal, Adler]
  • Facebook says it may go after some lawyers who’ve repped adversary Ceglia [Roger Parloff, Fortune]

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“Facebook and Twitter have landed several Britons in court and even jail recently. Critics decry the trend as a worrisome overreaction.” [L.A. Times]

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