Tuition Fees

November 10th, 2010 by Bleak_Flat No comments »

I drafted this on the day the Browne report was published, and then decided it was too boring to post.  I post it now as point 6 came true today and I wish I’d posted it before so I could seem prophetic.  Students are angry at the Lib Dems, say the media – they were betrayed.  So why are they breaking windows at the Conservative Party offices?

Ahhhh, tuition fees.  I’ve spent about eight years talking about tuition fees.  Part of me would love to write a lengthy and referenced summary of the arguments on this blog in the naïve idea that I was contributing to a wider debate.

However, having spent eight years talking about tuition fees, I have learned enough to know that such a post would be pointless.  Instead, I offer you some baseless predictions and observations.

1.       There is no ‘reasoned argument’ to be had about tuition fees that involves institutions or students.  Institutions will repeat, ad infinitum, that they are broke and need more money to make it through another year.  They always make it through the next year.  Likewise, students will say they are broke and debt will stop them from going to university, right up until the point that they sign the loan forms.

2.       Taxpayers, the majority of whom did not attend University, resent the idea that their taxes should pay for others to do so (with the exception of those who are parents with children aged 16-21).

3.       The government will succeed in doing whatever they plan to do, as they have on the last two occasions, because, despite the media headlines and students moaning, there is quite a low political cost (sulking 18-24 year old undergrads, who become far less fussed when they become taxpayers).  Also, there are far more graduates than undergraduate students, which is why a graduate tax would have a high political cost.

4.       Those who talk lovingly about the days of the full grant forget that the full grant supported far fewer students attending even fewer universities.  There are now 130 Universities and a further 122 Further Education Colleges in receipt of funds from the Higher Education Funding Council.  If anyone could point me towards some figures from the time, I would be very grateful, but in my ignorance I guess that there were around 50 Universities in 1970.

5.       I am very very idealistic.  I think you should want to study a degree because a) your passion is a vocational subject, and the degree is prerequisite qualification for a job in that field (Medicine, Veterinary Science, Engineering, Law, Architecture etc.) or b) your passion is a particular subject and you wish to study it out of pure interest with no particular job in mind.  I don’t think either group would be massively dissuaded by higher fees because the earlier group will make a financial calculation and decide it will pay for itself, and the second group are not making a financial calculation at all.  Those that fall into neither category, and have been told that a degree in anything will bolster their employment prospects for any job have received awful careers advice and are right to think very carefully about whether they will get a return on their investment when compared to an extra 3 years early entry into the job market.

6.       There was a time in British history when student action was a genuinely worrying prospect.  This time has long past, and the NUS will be as ineffective at opposing the increase this time as it has been the last two times.  They will, however, be more vitriolic in their opposition, as they no longer need to tread carefully when considering their personal future in politics.  Their desired employer is now the opposition and not the party suggesting the increase.

{lang: 'en-GB'}

ASA Rules For Immaculate Conception

September 15th, 2010 by Bleak_Flat No comments »

This post would be much more fun if my headline was true, but sadly the opposite is closer to reality.  Today, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled against Antonio Fedirici’s latest ad campaign featuring the picture below.

Pregnant Nun eating Ice Cream

The Antonio Fedirici Image

10 people complained to the ASA arguing that the ad was offensive to Catholics, and the ASA were not moved by the company’s protest that “conception” simply referred to the development of their ice-cream.

The Guardian has the full story.

I must say at first I giggled, but on further thought I wonder if this is the ASA saying that playing with religious imagery is off-limits, which seems rather beyond their realm.  Secondly, if this ad really offended Catholics, I fear those offendees are about to have a very distressing week given the media mood about the Papal visit.  Last night, Jeremy Paxman opened Newsnight with: “The Pope’s about to come to Britain – who cares?”.

If you are wondering, and I’m sure you’re not, the preceding ad (also banned) suggests the conception was more mundane.  Do go to the designer’s website for more images.

{lang: 'en-GB'}

Daily Little Law Links

August 20th, 2010 by Bleak_Flat No comments »

This bunch are not as fresh as my usual posts, but are a range of things over the last few weeks that are worth bringing to your attention.

For me, studying copyright law seemed like quite a treadmil; the more I learned, the more complicated it got.  I’m pleased to know I was not alone in this, because a recent High Court judgement found even the Copyright Tribunal were a bit confused as to what they were supposed to be doing.  The press coverage is here, and the case report here.

Next, the recent edition of New Scientist looks at statistics quoted when considering DNA evidence.

The DNA analyst who testified in Smith’s trial said the chances of the DNA coming from someone other than Jackson were 1 in 95,000. But both the prosecution and the analyst’s supervisor said the odds were more like 1 in 47. A later review of the evidence suggested that the chances of the second person’s DNA coming from someone other than Jackson were closer to 1 in 13, while a different statistical method said the chance of seeing this evidence if the DNA came from Jackson is only twice that of the chance of seeing it if it came from someone else

Take a look at the full article here.

A survey by Sailpoint found that departing employees are now quite likely to pilfer client data, and our US cousins are slightly more inclined to do this than us.  23% of polled UK employees said they would take customer lists with them.    The initial report is here, and there is more discussion at The Register.

On a personal note, I learned today that I do not have the right sort of personality to work for the government.  I think I’m quite proud of that.

{lang: 'en-GB'}


August 12th, 2010 by Bleak_Flat 2 comments »

A little slow on the uptake as usual, but do hurry over to Law Actually’s post calling for nominations for the UK Blawggies 2010 – I’ve just spend a most enjoyable half hour making my nominations.  I think tomorrow is the last day – lets see who goes through!

{lang: 'en-GB'}


July 26th, 2010 by Bleak_Flat No comments »

I know that there is a very very small audience amongst my readers for this, but I watched this five minutes ago and I am still struggling to breathe normally.

Maybe I was too quick to dismiss medical negligence..?

{lang: 'en-GB'}

A Good Day

July 23rd, 2010 by Bleak_Flat No comments »

In a previous post, I was a little unkind about defendants in libel actions wimping out before trial.  I’m pleased to say that there was no wimping out on the part of those defendants, and with the assistance of some dedicated pro bono blogger-lawyers, today this case was struck out.

I will never do the tale justice, so I suggest you head over to the Jack of Kent’s blog for a summary of the case.  I’m sure the last instalment will be posted tomorrow as their tide of celebration recedes.

Also, it seems the Jack of Kent is just five followers away from the 6,000 he aspires to – if you are not yet a groupie, go to and follow him!

{lang: 'en-GB'}

Daily Little Law Links

July 16th, 2010 by admin No comments »

This story, from a Canadian newspaper, contains some stunning accusations about the US refusing Dutch help to tackle the capped oil leak in the Gulf.  If many of the points it raises are true, it may allow defences of contributory negligence, or a failure to mitigate the loss against the US Government (assuming BP would be willing to take the PR hit). Highlights include an alleged block on the use of Dutch equipment that would remove 99.9985% of the oil in the water at sea in preference for the US method of scooping up all the water along with the oil and taking it back to shore.   An interesting read. (Hat-tip to Samizdata*)

The phrase “Act of  God” is an infamous get-out clause.  However, this article lists some US cases where God is being replaced by the infinitely more attractive litigation target of energy companies.  Very briefly, I think the argument goes something like: “Katrina destroyed my house, Katrina was caused by green-house gases, you release green-house gases, therefore you destroyed my house.”  I would imagine they are going to be testing causation to extreme with that.  (Hat-tip US site Legal Geekery)

To complete my stateside round-up, news that erroneously gripping iPhone users have cleared the first hurdle in their class action against Apple.

*This site is often blocked by corporate firewalls in the UK, I think because of their literal stance on the second amendment to the US Constitution.

{lang: 'en-GB'}

Daily Little Law Links

June 30th, 2010 by Bleak_Flat No comments »

In a disappointing fudge, it looks like 28 days detention without trail is here to stay, at least for another 6 months.

As a law student, I have a pretty high tolerance for reading nonsense, but I confess that I am often guilty of a thoughtless “click here to show you have read and agree to our terms and conditions” when I have (at best) scanned the headings.  Apparently, I am not alone – it seems the Financial Services Authority agrees with my approach.

‘Emails are as private as postcards’ – trite but sound advice.  Or should that be ‘fully search-able postcards that will later be used as evidence against you’?  Surely the thousands of emails that go back and forth everyday within organisations make it impossible to use email as a practical investigative tool, right?  Not if you know what phrases to look for, as the former CEO of Lehman Brothers discovered.

{lang: 'en-GB'}

Family Law Blog – Pink Tape

June 18th, 2010 by Bleak_Flat 2 comments »

Inspired by Law Actually’s blog post, and in search of distractions to fill the awaiting-result void, I thought I would try to populate the blog-roll. So, first up, for no better reason than it made me laugh twice in one day recently is Pink Tape, a family law blog.

Having told everyone who would listen during my law degree that I never want to do family law, I confess it feels like it is drawing me in.  The above blog is written by a family law barrister based in Bristol and is a mixture of tales from work, comment on family law stories in the media and reviews of big issues facing family law.  Also, having clung to London like a limpet for most of my life, the idea of practising in the West Country also sounds very nice.  Do I like the blog, or am I my subconsciously incredibly envious of the author?  Probably both.  Anyway,  I always enjoy reading it, do take a look.

{lang: 'en-GB'}

Software Update

June 18th, 2010 by admin No comments »

Excuse the pointless post, but I’m a hopeless “early-adopter” and will be running the WordPress 3.0 shortly.  If this blog disappears for a few weeks / months I suggest you avoid running the update yourself.

See you soon!

UPDATE: It seems to have survived…

UPDATE 2: – I thought I had fixed a problem with comments a few months ago, but it appears not.  I have shut off the offending plug-in, I hope that resolves the problem!

{lang: 'en-GB'}