An alternative Twelve days of Christmas

It’s time to get festive, and so I bring you the alternative Twelve Days of Christmas, designed especially for the lawyer in all of us. It has been a bit affected by the state of the economy, as you will see. Unlike the traditional version, there is no need to sing this one, I doubt it scans very well.

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me a Buddha in a pear tree.

We are not off to a great start, because I can’t seem to find a legal case, or anything else particularly legal, involving partridges or pear trees.  What I did find though, was a Chinese orchard growing pears in the image of Buddha, and you can’t get better than that.

On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me two doves.

At this point, the difficulty of finding suitable lawyer-ish alternatives nearly put me off this whole exercise before it had even got going.  You’ll have to settle for the knowledge that in future your true love is going to struggle to find any turtle doves to send you as they are disappearing from the countryside at alarming rates.  So plain old normal doves it is.

On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me three French tales.

It starts getting a bit easier from here.  The first French tale involves Pippa Middleton and whether or not she broke French criminal law by being in a car with someone waving a gun about (she didn’t).

The second involves her sister, the Duchess of Cambridge, who ended up in a legal wrangle with French magazine Closer after if published topless photographs of her.  An interesting reaction came from the magazine’s lawyer who claimed the ensuing furore was in large part due to the furious reaction of the royal couple rather than the original privacy breach.  Bof!

Lastly, is the extraordinary case of the French lawyers suspended after a ‘jokey’ Twitter exchange during a murder trial.  Stephen Lambert, one of the most senior lawyers in Mont-de-Marsan in south west France, asked fellow senior prosecutor Emmanuel Douchin ‘have we the right to slap a witness?’ adding later ‘good, that’s enough, I’ve made the witness cry’.  He continued ‘a prosecutor who strangles the judge in the middle of a case, how long would he get?’  Brings a whole new dimension to the debate about tweeting in court.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me fewer callings than before

The number of barristers called to the Bar fell by nearly 20 per cent in 2010-11 compared to the previous year.  A decrease in the number of people being called to the Bar is not necessarily a bad thing (how many barristers do we really need?) unless, of course, you are a law student. 

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me one gold ring

Although if he found it in a field, like George McKean did, he will have to report it to the Coroner under the Treasure Act 1996, whereby it is surrendered to the Crown, although he could get a reward equivalent to the market value.  In these tough economic times you could do worse than hang around with George, who struck gold for the second time in the same spot where he had found a hoard of 41 gold coins 28 years before. 

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love sent to me a few hundred geese a-laying.

It seems 2012 was the year of the botched wildlife cull.  In October the government decided to delay a planned badger cull after widespread opposition to the scheme.  In a similar u-turn, the Windermere Geese Management Group (WGMG) scrapped a cull of up to 200 Canada Geese.  Animal charities claimed it wasn’t legal and eventually the WGMG bowed to public pressure.  They will instead use techniques such as ‘egg oiling’ to prevent embryos developing.  Or they could just let Pru Leith scramble a few.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me no swans a-swimming

Under an ancient charter swans are considered to belong to the Crown and as native wild birds they also enjoy statutory protection so he’ll have no trouble finding them.  However, it is an offence to intentionally injure, take or kill a wild swan, which can result in a £5,000 fine or six months in jail, meaning he can’t really give any to me.  Sadly this didn’t bother the crooks who decapitated and butchered six swans for their breast meat in Alvaston Park, Derbyshire in February.  I hope they choked on the feathers.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love sent to me eight maids a-milking

First, he would have to check if they were really maids - it’s much harder to tell than it used to be.  Apparently, married women barristers tend to retain their maiden names professionally and only adopt their married name if they become a judge.  Weird.

In a wider development, new figures from Deed Poll in November showed more and more couples are now ‘meshing’ their names on tying the knot.  Examples include Price and Nightingale becoming ‘Prightingale’ and Harley and Gatts becoming ‘Hatts’.  Hmmm….

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to me one great big piper

DLA Piper to be precise.   It is the world’s largest law firm, so hardly surprising it occasionally hits the ‘headlines’.  My favourites from this year: the DLA Piper ‘Journalist Awards’ in which the winners had all written nice pieces about the firm; the DLA Piper lawyer who had an affair with Russian spy Anna Chapman; and the news that it was Obama’s third highest campaign funder.

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love sent to me two drummers drumming

A bit mean but I could only find two drummers who have retrained to become lawyers in the last year.  Blur’s drummer, Dave Rowntree, qualified as a solicitor in September but was already moonlighting (literally) as DJ Dark Destroyer by November.  I can’t think why he’d need an escape from legal work.  Equally exciting, Louis Pavlou, who has drummed for The Cure, Skunk Anansie and Anastasia, started a law degree at the University of Kent this September.  Rock and roll!

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me some dodgy dancers dancing

You’ve probably already read about lap dancer Nadine Quashie’s landmark legal battle against Stringfellows in which she established she was an employee, and not self-employed, so as to bring an unfair dismissal claim.  But did you hear about the New York appeals court that ruled lap dancers are not an artistic performance and are not therefore exempt from state tax?  Or the couple arrested in The Big Apple for dancing on a subway platform?  No, thought not.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me one lord a-hearing

There has, of course, only been one lord of note this year, Lord Justice Leveson, and there’s been quite enough written about him already. 

So there you have it.  I hope your Christmas stocking is stuffed with goodies somewhat more exciting.

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