March 2011 articles archive:

Supermarket worker sacked for drinking the wrong tea.

Is there trouble brewing or just a storm in a tea cup?

It appears that James Alden, who had been employed by the Co-operative supermarket in West Didsbury, Manchester has been dismissed for taking the wrong brand of tea from the shop shelves to drink in the staff canteen. Co-op rules are that staff may use tea bags from the shop in the canteen without having to pay for them but they must use the Co-op's own Fair Trade tea bags. Instead of taking the Fair Trade tea bags Mr Alden took two boxes of Twining's Lady Grey tea.

Mr Alden was asked to a disciplinary meeting. He was then given a formal letter, informing him of the decision to sack him. The offence regarding the tea bags was, in the words of the company, "misappropriation of company stock by taking items into the canteen without making prior payment". The Co-op claims that Mr Alden had also failed to record the ages of people over 25 buying cigarettes and alcohol. Challenge 25, as it is known, is an initiative adopted by the Co-op and staff are expected to record an estimation of the age of the person purchasing tobacco and alcohol. 

Mr Alden had worked with the Co-op for 11 years and says he has never been late or been off sick in those 11 years. In fact only four years ago he was applauded for tackling an armed raider in the shop.  He claims that the management were looking for reasons to sack him after he raised objections to a new clocking-in system.

A spokesman for The Co-operative said: “The individual concerned was dismissed from his position at our store on Burton Road following serious breaches of a number of our business procedures.

“The appeal process has been explained to him should he wish to challenge the decision.”

Mr Alden said he was looking for a job elsewhere and did not intend appealing.

We can only guess at some of the background to the story and as Mr Alden seems to have accepted the situation and is moving on so should we or are there valid points here that need to be addressed.  There are issues here that will strike a chord with many people, the feeling that because you have objected to a new policy or regime you are seen as a troublemaker and management will be on the look out for a reason to 'get rid of you'.  There is also that feeling that the management is too big to take on and is it worth it any way?

Mr Alden, certainly, did not stick to the rules and what he did regarding the tea bags appears to be no different from stealing, although whether he had intended to use the tea bags for his own personal use or if they were just taken to the canteen for general use is up for debate. Regarding the 'Challenge25' initiative, I hadn't realised that Co-op staff are obliged to log on the till the estimated age of anyone purchasing tobacco or alcohol.  I can understand them having to challenge young people and ask for identification but I would be put out to say the least if asked my age and even more put out, I dare-say, if I knew the estimated age they had recorded!

 

Solicitors from heaven or hell?

Is this the right way to deal with complaints against solictors or just a case of solicitors from hell (unless they pay my fee!)

Rick Kordowski, who set up his website solicitorsfromhell.com, five years ago, did so after claiming to have lost £750,000 after being negligently advised on a planning dispute. He claims to have received £500 compensation, despite, in his words losing "......... everything … house, job, money, the whole shooting match." through the Law Society's complaints handling process as a result of professional negligence.

He does not vet the claims that appear on his site saying that he did try checking once but "Everyone denied the allegations and so I don't do it any more."

As well as solicitorsfromhell.com there is also a solicitorsfromheaven area on his site and the firms listed here are allegedly "good, decent, fighting, professional, passionate lawyers".  According to Kordowski ten of these firms have paid £299 for a lifetime listing which apparently includes a ban from being listed on the solicitorsfromhell site.

It does appear that firms can have their names removed from the solicitorsfromhell site, if they pay £299! Surely this defeats the whole object of having a web site which is meant to name and shame, if you can pay to have your name removed? By paying this fee do you suddenly become a "good, decent, fighting, professional, passionate lawyers". Although, to be fair, you would probably have to pay two fees to be able to claim that!

One defamation lawyer was listed on solicitorsfromhell, not by his own client but by the other side's.  Most people would consider this to be a recommendation and you would certainly not expect the opposition to be saying what a decent chap your solictor was!

There are procedures to follow if you have got a complaint regarding a solicitor and until sites such as this seem to be more credible perhaps we should stick with the traditional process.

There are changes ahead and the 6 October 2011 will see more competition under the LSA by allowing non-law businesses  to move further into legal services. So with more competition will we be able to make a more informed choice or will we still hope for the best and believe that because we are dealing with professional people they will have all the right answers.

Will we have compare the solicitor.com or yet more solictors from hell sites?

 

 

Two countries separated by their legal systems as well as their language? Dr Conrad Murray

With the forthcoming trial of Dr Conrad Murray are we to witness another media frenzy?

Any study of the legal system in America will soon tell you that it is not just the continued use of the death penalty which makes our system so different.

In the weeks leading up to the opening of the trial of Dr Conrad Murray, who is currently facing manslaughter charges over Michael Jackson's death, we have been told that the trial Judge,Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor,is to allow the trial process to be televised.  Judge Michael Pastor handed down the surprise order provided that the camera equipment is placed in a position which minimises any intrusion.

At the same time, on our side of the pond, we have been told that the Supreme Court see no reason why micro networking sites cannot be used live in court. The building used by the UKSC has been fully Wi Fi enabled, including all the courtrooms, in order to facilitate use of technology in and outside court to keep abreast of events.  The judiciary, having considered the matter, have decided that it is acceptable to Twitter in the Supreme Court in most circumstances as the Court does not rely upon a jury and there are no witnesses to distract as the proceedings are usually based on paperwork.

We do not allow the reporting of judicial proceedings and recording and imaging is prohibited under the Contempt of Court Act 1981.

Is that the end of the differences? It seems not, any of you who have searched for information regarding the case will realise that articles are accessible on the internet. Some even report likely defence arguments which may or may not be raised.  Any potential juror is able to pick up and read such material and this is where we seem to be much more protective of the principle that jurors should only base their decisions and deliberations upon evidence that they have seen or heard as part of the trial.  There are well known reporting restrictions in this country but not so in America. This raises the issue of whether such reporting simply encourages trials by the media.  Who can forget the case of O.J. Simpson?

Having allowed reporting to continue in America it is strange that it seems to be generally accepted that this media coverage may, in some people's eyes, affect the outcome of the trial. To counteract this the Judge is expected to produce a 30 page questionnaire containing 160 questions for jurors to answer. Jurors will have to answer these as part of their vetting arrangements to try and make sure that the jurors can be sufficiently open minded so as not to be prejudiced before the trial begins. This process may take some time but it seems the Judge is anticipating that this will need to be done before the trial commences properly in May.  In this country we do not spend nearly so much time concerning ourselves over such matters although both parties do have the opportunity to raise questions of the jurors.

 

The age of criminal responsibility gets thrown into the political arena

Liberal Democrats have debated whether the age of criminal responsibility in this country should be raised from 10 years to 14 years. Does the vote in favour reflect the public's feelings on the matter?

The age of criminal responsibility, in this country, presently stands at 10 years and there are some who would like us to be more in line with other European countries on this particular matter.  The last serious political debate on the question of criminal responsibility of young persons took place when Parliament debated and approved what became the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

Interestingly, for any of you looking for an example of a legal, and some would say a social, issue best left to Parliament as opposed to the courts then look no further than this particular question. The former House of Lords back in the nineties preferred to leave the matter of reform to Parliament.

The judiciary can only go so far - it is their job to resolve disputes and make decisions on particular cases before them. Judges are not elected and face criticisms that they would be acting undemocratically if they strayed too far into the realms of law making.This is charged to Parliament on our behalf.

This is a time when we should be cherishing the fact that we have a multi party system as part of our democracy and admiring the efforts of those striving for democracy. It is noteworthy that one of the by products of such a system is openness and debate which leads to an informed opinion.

At present the proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility of children is before the Liberal Democratic party at their party conference in Sheffield which is attended only by members of the Liberal Democratic party. If the proposal is to gain momentum it will be tested and debated in the public arena by other political parties, professionals and other interested parties as well as members of the public generally before it becomes government policy for reform.

Archives

Recent Posts

The latest posts from the lawmentor.co.uk blog archives.

Supreme court busy - make sure you are geared up for your course

The Supreme Court has been especially busy lately.

Gina miller v secretary of state for exiting the eu 2016 as an example of the importance of judicial independence

Law students are now required to take note of how the independence and work of the judiciary has been reformed

Policing and crime bill and provisions for bail after arrest but before charge

The clear intention is that decisions on pre-charge bail should come under scrutiny.

The judicial committee of the privy council – a colonial legacy

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is the highest court of appeal for many Commonwealth countries.

Does the scrapping of glen parva secure college and the lifting of a book ban herald the start to serious reform of the failing prison system?

How much of Michael Gove's vision for prisons and the criminal justice system will be effective in righting self-inflicted wrongs remains to be seen.

Police-led prosecutions are to be extended again.

Home Secretary Theresa May announces “We will extend the use of police-led prosecutions to cut the time you spend waiting for the Crown Prosecution Service”.

Perverse verdict in the name of justice? mutiny at high down

High Down prison in Banstead may not be on the high seas but apparently it can be the scene of a mutiny.

Statutory interpretation - bogdanic -v- the secretary of state for the home department; qbd 29-aug-2014

The case concerns the operation of the carriers' liability regime in relation to the immigration control zones in France.