Friday, 16 December 2011

Father Christmas

Felt privileged to catch up with Father Christmas this week, as we know what a busy time of the year this is for him. He was in surprisingly good cheer, considering the stories he was telling me about all the red tape and regulation he has to cut through these days.

“The job is certainly not as straightforward as it used to be” he chuckles. “Just as well I have magic on my side! It’s you mortals I feel sorry for, having to cope with all this without.”

He talks to me at length about the layers and layers of Health & Safety legislation he now has to comply with, given he’s taking (at times quite unpredictable) animals up into the sky, flying at high altitudes in an open-top vessel, not to mention landing his sleigh and reindeer on roofs of varying construction designs and strengths across the globe. Then there’s the tussle he’s had this year with the Aviation Authorities over additional security checks they now insist on. “Every present has to be scanned now, which of course adds quite a few hours on to an already long night’s work. But heigh-ho!”

He’s also being forced to rethink the diversity of his workforce, no longer able to insist on only using elves to help him. “It’s actually been a very happy development, this” he chortles. “Magic being such a big part of the job description for any of my helpers, I’d long thought only elves could ever fit the bill. But being forced to look further, I’ve discovered there’s a merry band of professional services marketeers who are required to work magic everyday, so we’ve brought some of those on board too now and I’ve made some lovely new friends.”

One piece of legislation he’s particularly delighted about this year though, is the end of the default retirement age.

“I thought I was going to be forcibly retired this year now I’ve reached the grand old age of 350. But now the default retirement age has been scrapped in the North Pole, I’m happy to say I’ll be bringing Christmas cheer all over the world for a good few years to come.”

***
I had to put up with a bit of stick from colleagues when I relayed this conversation with Father Christmas. A definite lack of respect – they even suggested that perhaps he might not be real. I pointed out that they needed to watch their step: a belief in Jedis has been deemed protectable under anti-religious-descrimination laws embedded in the employment legislation, so I’m sure a belief in Father Christmas would be similarly protected.

Besides, if they’re not nice about it, clearly they’ll end up on the Naughty List and won’t be getting any presents!

***

We’re all looking forward to our Christmas party next Wednesday – an afternoon out at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. It’s been a fantastic year at Kysen: a move to Covent Garden, and into the Cloud, plus a new website showing our renewed confidence and excitement in who we are and what we do. Lots for us to celebrate!

Merry Christmas everyone and a very Happy New Year!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Jane Dudman


Jane Dudman is looking back at a fantastic year of journalism at The Guardian - and looking forward as well, continuing to lead the pack in digital news publishing. This week the editor of the paper's ground-breaking PublicLeaders Network was addressing a small celebratory party announcing a new advisory board. The PublicLeaders Network is a highly influential digital forum for senior leaders of public services to exchange ideas and practice notes as well as discuss the issues at the top of their professional agendas. 

In conversation she tells me "Having built up a phenomenal following of senior public sector managers over years in hard copy, I have to say that I was extremely nervous when we took the bold decision to switch to online only. But our loyal following switched with us and the Network has gone from strength to strength. Ours was the first of the Guardian's 13 online business hubs, so as such we created the mould for one of the paper's biggest digital successes."

Jane talked of her pride in watching the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics, knowing it was her colleagues who first broke the story of the phone hacking scandal. She could also have mentioned the fact that the paper is already Newspaper of the Year and Digital News Service of the Year, second only to the Mail Online in terms of online newspaper readership and renown for 'constantly raising the bar by which other newspaper websites are judged'. 

It is these twin strengths that impress me the most at The Guardian - on the one hand its reputation as among the best for investigative journalism and old-style journalistic values; on the other, its reputation as leader in digital news publishing. 

*** 

... But for coverage of the professions, The Times is still my favourite personal read, I have to say.  So it was delightful this week to catch up with all my friends at The Times' Christmas party at the Reform Club: Frances GibbEdward FennellClare HoganLinda TsangAlex SpenceJonathan Ames, as well as the amazing Karen Snell, PR Head at Lovells - sorry, Hogan Lovells she keeps reminding me - and freelance public affairs supremo Louise Restell.  It was a far later night than I intended, (I blame you, Karen >:S) but brilliant fun!

***

News that IT giant Atos is banning email in the workplace for internal communications and replacing it with instant messaging, Facebook and other social media platforms, set me thinking this week about how long it took some professional firms to embrace email in the first place. Obviously many firms have proud reputations as early adopters, keen to grasp new technology and see if/how it can be intelligently applied to their business - and we are lucky that our clients tend to fall in this category. But to be honest these firms are the exception rather than the norm, in a section of the business world famous for its conservatism. 

The most extreme example I recall - and of course I wouldn't dream of naming names - was a firm whose fee earners would dictate email to their secretaries, who would then type them out in hard copy with a special header reminiscent of old fax headers saying 'ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION', hand back to the fee earner for signing, and then scan and email the document as an attachment! You couldn't make it up!!

The legal world may be catching up these days. Trouble is, the rest of the world keeps moving on even faster.  

***
Can you come to my party? Wonderful news this week that members of Massive Attack and Radiohead played a surprise gig at Occupy London's Christmas party. The gig took place in the basement of an abandoned UBS building renamed The Bank of Ideas. Whatever you think about our anti-capitalist protesters they clearly have good taste in music - might even be better than most bankers'... 

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Edmund Parker



"I never used to have much to do with my colleague Edmund Parker until 2008..."
This was David Allen's opening gambit at a meeting this week with Edmund and a BBC Business journalist, set up to take the broadcaster through the background on some derivatives cases coming up over the next weeks and months.  David is one of the global heads of litigation at Mayer Brown and Edmund global co-head of derivatives, but pre-2008 David says, he had more to do with his US and Asia litigation colleagues than the derivatives regulatory team working in the same office as him in London.

It all changed when the credit crunch hit.


"All of a sudden, on receiving our third or fourth derivatives litigation instruction in a row, we clocked the pattern developing. A lot of people's positions changed pretty much overnight and unexpectedly. So suddenly a hedging, options or futures deal done just months before started to look a lot less attractive. We were inundated with parties looking to see what they could do to set a transaction aside - or stop the other side from doing exactly that! It was at this point that Edmund and I started to get to know each other very well."

I've always liked this 'matrix' approach of Mayer Brown's - pulling together cross-disciplinary, cross-jurisdictional teams in response to big global stories - a global business defaulting; a global bank in trouble. The firm set-up is designed specifically to field bespoke teams according to the needs of a particular task/job/case, eg bringing an in-depth understanding of complex financial instruments together with top-notch litigation expertise (this is the team that ran some of the first cases in the Supreme Court as it opened), and fielding regional experts in a particular jurisdiction as needed. But whereas some firms merely talk the talk - we all know how the wording goes on any big law firm website or credentials statement -  Mayer Brown really walk the walk.  The simple reason being that these guys have been working across their various offices around the globe for a very long time and cross-team working is part of the firm's cultural fabric - unlike some firms whose transatlantic or global capabilities have been forged much more recently. Remember, the Mayer Brown Rowe and Maw merger was a very long time ago back in the '90s. 

The collapse of Lehmans was a case in point. Mayer Brown pulled a rapid response team together in hours, working as one unit but covering three different jurisdictions - in New York, London and Hong Kong.

This is my favourite kind of PR job - a firm that has an excellent story to tell, but just needs a platform to tell it. No need for smoke and mirrors here. Mayer Brown are the real deal.

***
There but for the grace of God... I was lucky enough to be invited to National Brain Injury Charity Headway’s Annual Awards Luncheon, courtesy of Prolegal. As a member of the Brain Injury Group, an organisation that promotes the use of dedicated brain injury lawyers to handle personal injury claims involving head injuries, Prolegal supports Headway to help promote awareness of the reality of life after such catastrophic and complex injuries.

I read the booklet beforehand: awards would be given out for Volunteer of the Year, Campaigner of the Year, Achiever of the Year, Outstanding Contribution to Headway, as well as Carer of the Year. I was expecting to hear some moving stories. But what I wasn't prepared for was the fact that so many of the nominees and winners were individuals who had suffered brain injury themselves, and having been so brilliantly supported by Headway throughout their journey to recovery (or at least some semblance of a normal life), they wanted to give something back. This really stopped me in my tracks.

***
Well, I'm truly in the Christmas spirit now. Have to say, Covent Garden really knows how to do Christmas! This being our first Winter in our new neighbourhood, it has been such a welcome surprise to see how everyone in Seven Dials and Covent Garden more widely works together to get the area ready for Christmas. Almost makes up for the passing of the Summer and the fact that we can't use our wonderful roof garden at the moment! As many of you know already, I am the very proud owner of an I Love Covent Garden discount card. Back in November the organisers advertised a 20% discount day to take place on the 1st December - and I promptly booked the whole day off! So now I can smugly say most of my Christmas shopping has been done. But most fun of all, was just to enjoy the community spirit. How nice to work in a district in Central London with such a strong sense of community.

Friday, 25 November 2011

David Greene

Had an almost heated exchange on twitter this week with good friend David Greene of Edwin Coe, formerly president of the London Solicitors Litigation Association.  I had made reference to some strategic work I am doing with some refreshingly forward-looking barristers that are having to respond to seismic change coming at them from all quarters: the withdrawal of Legal Aid hitting publicly funded work; the impending rise of 'volume legal processors' in the post-Legal-Services-Act world, poised to take over the space currently occupied by high street referring solicitors; the rise of in-house solicitor-advocates; the communications revolution; and more.

David responded:  @ClareRodway Do forward-looking barristers become solicitors?
    
'Absolutely not necessarily!' I answered, my strong belief being that the core roles in a legal team will always be required - someone to project manage, someone to manage the client, teamwork on legal arguments, and someone with the skills to put across the arguments in court in the most persuasive way possible (so advocacy).  What's changing with deregulation is the boundaries between these roles - not the roles themselves.  
                  
A rational enough argument to my mind....  Imagine my surprise at David's reply:


@ClareRodway your response may edge into certain sections of private eye,but hey ho it's still barristers wanting to be solicitors;why not?


Certain sections of Private Eye?  The cheek!  Differences to sort over a lunch or beer, clearly...  In conversation with David this week and over the years, I do know that our views are not in fact that far apart.  Indeed he has gone on record to express his views of competition between solicitors and barristers: that there is clearly a need for specialist advocacy services that barristers deliver, and that the vast majority of solicitors simply do not have the capacity nor inclination to provide them.


But he does question the Bar's pre-occupation with Direct Access work, arguing that it threatens to push barristers towards taking on a project management role.  This, he says, is potentially suicide because it places the barrister in direct competition with their main work providers, just at the point where the barrister moves out of their comfort zone.  I can see his point.  There is a clear danger here, although many barristers I speak to are keen to avoid this element and want to target Direct Access work only where the client themselves (eg an in-house lawyer of a sizeable and well-resourced company) is sufficiently skilled and willing to take on that project management role themselves.  A far more productive and mature approach would be for the Bar to strengthen its relationship with solicitors he says, rather than positioning themselves to compete directly with them. 


'I do see that the Bar is between a rock and a hard place,' he concedes.  'It sees solicitors competing for some of its work.  It feels it must respond in kind.  Direct access, alternative business structures and the procureco model (which provides a corporate structure for barristers to bid for work against solicitors) seek to lay down the challenge.'


However at the end of the day, the Bar would be far better off focussing on developing the real skills it has that set it apart from solicitors - rather then trying to develop competing skills, he says.  'The real selling power of the Bar is working with us, not against us - and this is something they shouldn't forget'.

***

Did you notice how the Leveson Inquiry sucked the airspace from the Stephen Lawrence trial? Funny that. A point much discussed at Kysen this week. Press freedoms and controls are a central part of our democracy, so important of course.  This must have been the reason the inquiry dwarfed the coverage of the Lawrence trial.  Didn't have anything to do with the fact we are more interested in watching celebrities on our TV screens.  No.  Definitely not.


***

Exciting for us was the launch of our new website.  We are all very proud.  The look & feel is quite different from our previous website: bolder, more confident - a good reflection of how we've changed over the last few years.


Refreshing the imagery was just one reason why we decided to revamp the website.  But in particular we wanted to position it more appropriately alongside our social media communications and blogs.  You'll see we now have links to our social media threaded throughout the site.
 


Have a browse and tell us what you think...

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Paul Howcroft

Sometimes it’s the people you’ve known the longest who hold the most surprises.  I first knew Fladgate litigation partner Paul Howcroft in the early 1990s when I was Marketing Director at Nicholson Graham & Jones (now K&L Gates). He was famous in the firm as one of its most highly regarded banking litigation and insolvency lawyers, managing a 10-strong team looking after litigation matters for one of the top clearing banks.  A City man through-and-through was how I always saw him.


After I left Nicholsons, we kept in touch vaguely over the years.  Then three years ago I had the pleasure of crafting a press release to announce Paul’s appointment at one of Kysen’s longest- standing and best-loved clients: Fladgate.   So nice to be working with him again!


Was I surprised to see him at a mid-town firm?  Certainly the City / West-End divide is not as it was in the 1980s and before, and legal careers move more freely between the two.  What has surprised me though is how Paul has developed a burgeoning art law practice alongside his banking, litigation and insolvency work.  And to look at the calibre of cases he is handling, this man is not dabbling; acting for the sellers of a Leonardo da Vinci drawing against art dealers for the recovery of secret profits; acting for US owners of a painting by Edvard Munch in a Nazi looted art dispute, to give you just two examples.

And I’m really enjoying his Art Law London blog. One of his recent posts discusses the Henry Moore sculpture that stands outside the Houses of Parliament, Knife Edge Two Piecein the context of 'res nullius', the legal term referring to things that belong to no-one, which can’t become owned just by the taking.  In the context of valuable works of art, res nullius is highly problematical.  Paul explains: 'The artist and the Contemporary Art Society, which paid for the casting, gave the work to the grateful nation in 1967, and what was then the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works accepted delivery.  However, when the British Council recently wanted to send the sculpture for display in the garden of the Kremlin (as it would), it could find no national or local government department or agency that had any record of ownership.'

Apparently there have been a number of reports of Henry Moore sculptures disappearing. 'In light of that,' asks Paul, 'and also a case called Sullivan where a defendant was acquitted of theft because the money he took did not seem to belong to anyone, should one not be organising a hoist and a heist?'  Love it Paul!  'Sadly, there are two reasons why not' he advises.  'The first is that the Sullivan case has not been followed and is regarded as bad law, and the second is that Knife Edge Two Piece is in one of the highest security areas in England.'

According to his self-styled twitter ID, he says he would be a renaissance man 'if only he had the time, talent and energy.'  Don’t believe the anti hype.  A renaissance man he most certainly is.

***

What a contrast between New York / London approaches to the Occupy movement this week!  Whilst UK protesters were saddened to see Occupy London served with eviction notices, at least the UK approach is focused (so far) on reasoned and legal argument.


In contrast, news of the Occupy Wall Street evictions was dominated by scenes of police brutality. There was even a report of an incredulous retired US Supreme Court Judge, Karen Smith, shoved up against a wall and threatened by a NYPD officer when she questioned him after she had allegedly witnessed him beating up a woman at the Zuccotti Park raids.


Policy chairman for the the Corporation of London Stuart Fraser told Channel 4 News this week he was prepared to use "all legal measures," including riot police, to remove protesters.  Let's hope we stop short of the excesses of the New York authorities.

***

The Lawyer's PR drinks was a memorable event last Tuesday, by all accounts.  I couldn't go, but the Kysen team was well represented by Sophie and Elliott.  They told me the event was very useful for networking among the legal PR and journalist community.  They caught up with various Kysen alumni, such as Cara Rowell who is now at Farrers and Sonia Malhotra at Taylor Wessing, also chatting to Christian Metcalfe who is just finishing his role at Estates Gazette before moving across to Lawyer 2B.  

From other sources though, I heard that the event was also good for partying.  Mags tweeted that the event 'went on till the wee hours with dirty words of Karaoke and kebabs being tossed about'.  Karaoke?  Kebabs?  Sophie, Elliott, you said nothing about this!  I have to say they were both bright-eyed, bushey-tailed and working hard first thing Wednesday morning.  Well they have youth on their side... 

Sunday, 13 November 2011

James Stanbury

Can you quantify the cost of human suffering?
I had a fascinating conversation with James Stanbury, partner at leading forensic accountants RGL this week, as this is a subject he knows about in granular detail. James is best known for his work on claim quantification and economic loss in the context of commercial/personal litigation and insurance matters.  He works very closely with solicitors – their focus being issues of liability, his focus being quantum. He is a member of the Academy of Expert Witnesses and has prepared over 400 expert witness reports on civil and criminal claims.


But  as a leading practitioner in his specialist area, he is often invited to write about slightly left-field topics, involving high level issues. In conversation with a journalist this week, the subject of quantifying remedies for human rights violations came up, and the reparations programmes of recent years.  Having blogged just two weeks ago about FW de Klerk’s role in ending apartheid by reshaping the rule of law, South Africa’s 2003 reparations programme immediately came to mind.   A more recent example is of course the formal apology and modest compensation offered in 2010 to women victims in Sierra Leone following the country’s 10-year armed conflict.  And currently the Moroccan government is implementing both individual and community-based reparations for more than 50 years of widespread abuse.


The idea that victims of human rights violations are entitled to remedies is relatively new says James: “It is only in the last 15 years or so that international law has really developed to allow the pursuit of global justice, to create formal processes to redress the harm suffered by individuals at the hands of dictatorial and abusive regimes and to impose accountability on their protagonists.” 


But how can you quantify such damage?  “Reparations are not intended to replicate the tort system” he says, “so the awards tend not to be comparable.  Of course one of the main dissatisfactions with reparation awards is that they reflect insufficient compensation to the victim – in turn reflecting the enormous difficulty - and ultimate impossibility - of quantifying harm and the realisation that no amount of money can compensate an individual for the loss of a family members of for the trauma of torture. Awards should not be interpreted as an effort to put a price on the effects of harm, but merely as a contribution – and, critically, as an acknowledgement (even if token) that harm has been done."  Quite.


***


Sometimes the most interesting conversations are the ones that tell you something surprising you didn't know about a person you see every day.  That was my experience this week. I've worked closely on a number of client accounts with our Mr. Elliott Burton for a number of years, but it wasn't until a meal at this week's staff outing that I learned he had auditioned for the part of Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter, ultimately played by Robert Pattinson. Of course Robert Pattinson went on from this to international heartthrob status in the Twilight series. So to think this could have been Elliott put us all in reflective mood. Thank goodness fate dealt its hand and he wasn't deprived of his glittering career in Legal PR!  (Thanks to Honey for the inspired artwork.)

***


The pool of musical talent at Allen & Overy was the other big surprise of the week.  Their rendition of Bizet's Carmen at Sadlers Wells was a revelation. The cast of 100+ A&O employees and alumni (also Roll On Friday co-founder Matthew Rhodes OBE in the role of Morales), plus 50 schoolchildren, raised over £15,000 for their chosen charities -  the British Red Cross and three East London primary schools: Christ Church, Sir John Cass and Stepney Greencoat.  The cast was coached by City Music Services, a fascinating company that offers 'a unique and creative dimension to time-challenged City business people's lives, by offering singing, instrumental and dance lessons in the workplace'Monteras off to Don McGown, the A&O corporate partner who heads the firm’s Music Programme.  Inspiring stuff!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Gill Steel

Gill Steel talks a lot of sense about change. The professions are arguably facing more change today than ever before.  The legal profession has The Legal Services Act and Jackson Review to contend with; barristers involved in publicly funded work are additionally grappling with the withdrawal of legal aid; and the accountancy profession is facing unprecedented regulatory change in the audit market, most recently the OFT announcing a probe into the dominance of the Big Four.  Add to this the impact of globalisation, a more volatile economic climate than we have seen in decades, the revolution in communications thanks to the explosion in social media, and the general acceleration in the rate of business change, and it's no wonder than the average forward view of UK business has shrunk to about half its usual time-period.  


So how do we respond?  Well part of the answer is to do with adaptive strategies of course, ie reading the market ahead (prophesying skills a distinct advantage here), identifying your strengths weaknesses, opportunities and threats; developing new markets for existing services; new services for existing client markets; and various permutations in between  (diagrams, matrices and graphs supplied).  But in practice the biggest factor is often the human one: can you get your partners to see that change is happening, that change is needed - and how?


Gill runs a company called Lawskills that aims to equip law firms to cope with change.  In conversation over tea she talks about the need for a mindful approach.  "We all know the old adage - in fact a definition of madness: 'If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got'.  The soundest business analysis and planning will amount to nothing if the people in the business don't see that a change in approach and behaviour is required, and are enabled to make that change.  This is often the biggest challenge of all in change management."


She encourages her clients to see change as something that needs to manifest in the small things - changes in individual choices (eg what work to take on and what to turn away) and daily behaviours. It can be less daunting presented this way she says, so in many cases partners are more likely to go with it. "Particularly (but not exclusively) in smaller firms, encouraging the individuals that make up the firm to make these 'small' changes is often a more effective way of achieving the bigger-scale change required at the broader firm level. It's like joining the dots."   


Gill also talks excitedly about the Training Review the root and branch overhaul of the legal education and training system, which this year was reinvigorated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Bar Standards Board and the Institute of Legal Executives Professional Standards, having previously fallen into disrepair.  


"The big idea is to look at a range of entry points now into the profession, for example perhaps offering apprenticeships in law for school leavers, not just the graduate options.  I'm thinking about what skills they'd need to be useful in a business at this early stage."


So plenty to keep Gill busy!  Follow Gill on twitter. 


***


A sobering reminder this week of the plus side of no-win-no-fee arrangements came in the form of Chris Jeffries' interview with the Today Programme, following  his libel win this Summer against the Sun, Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Record, Daily Express, Daily Star and the Scotsman for their coverage after his arrest on suspicion of Jo Yeates' murder last December. He was speaking just days after Vincent Tabak was convicted of the murder and sentenced to a minimum of 20 years.


Talking about his ordeal, he criticised the Government's plans to reform Conditional  Fee Agreements (CFAs) and said that without a no-win, no-fee arrangement he would never have been able to bring the media to account for defaming himIf ever there was a good example of a CFA providing access to justice where it really mattered, this is it.


***

I flew to Oakland this summer, the day that riots broke out in the UK.  I remember being shame-faced with my American friends answering their questions about what on earth was going on back at home.  Now, Oakland has its own rioting, and its own Occupy movement.  Does that make me feel any better?  Of course the answer is no.  It's just an even sorrier state of affairs all round. Do we think the 1% are getting the message?   



One part of the Oakland riots story that particularly caught my eye concerned the distress of genuine campaigners that agitant elements had clashed with police and vandalised banks.  They said it played into the hands of detractors and gave them reason to criticise the movement.  The BBC news report described a note found taped to a shattered glass window, saying: 


"We are better than this... Sorry, the 99%" 


- a reminder that behind those just using the situation as an opportunity to cause trouble, there are people with integrity at the heart of this protest.  


Let's just hope they don't get forced out by the rabble elements.



Saturday, 29 October 2011

F W de Klerk

FW de Klerk is a man who knows a thing or two about dispute resolution. As we all know, the former President of South Africa won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, along with Nelson Mandela (whose release he engineered), for his role in ending apartheid. But what I hadn't quite appreciated until hearing him speak at this week's London Solicitors Litigation Association (LSLA) annual dinner, was just how much he approached this incredible challenge with a lawyer's mind and toolkit.  He studied law at university and practised in the Transvaal after graduation.  The key contribution he made to the ending of apartheid was his role in the intense negotiation process between his own governing National Party and Mandela's African National Congress (ANC) aimed at constitutional change and securing equal voting rights for all individuals: the democratisation of South Africa no less.  


At the LSLA dinner he spoke to us on the topic of The Rule of Law and Constitutions in Rapidly Changing Societies"There's a common misconception" he said, "that South Africa’s peaceful transition, in essence, involved the transfer of power from the old National party government that I headed to the new ANC government headed by Nelson Mandela. It did not. Instead, what was involved was the transition from the old South African constitution where parliament was supreme, to a dispensation where the constitution itself - and not this or that political majority in parliament - was supreme."  

He discussed in detail how law has a central role in clearing up the mess of the globalising world. The lessons from South Africa's experience have huge relevance today, with so many countries currently 'in transition'.  It was fascinating to hear these ideas from a man who had engineered change on such an epic scale.  Particularly thought-provoking was his point that the use of legal process can be not only to effect change, but also to create stability in a changing environment:  "Constitutions and the rule of law can accordingly play critical roles in providing a framework within which rapid change can take place, without destroying the foundations of stability.  By the same token, the absence of constitutional frameworks and the absence of the rule of law can have catastrophic consequences."

You can download his full speech here, via the LSLA website. (Just click the link on the left hand side where it says Speech by Former President FW de Klerk...)


***


This week's local hero has to be St Paul's Chancellor Giles Fraser, for sticking to principle to the point of resigning in the dispute between senior colleagues and anti-capitalist protesters Occupy London, camped outside.  As St Paul's announced possible legal action, Canon Fraser said his position had become untenable and that “the church cannot answer peaceful protest with violence"


Even former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey stepped forward to express dismay at the 'mis-management' of the situation by St Paul's.  If you missed his no-holds-barred critique you can read it in the Telegraph here.  He doesn't hold back.  Great stuff!


[Since posting this blog, we now know of course that the Dean of St Paul's has also resigned...]


***


On a lighter note, uplifting news came this week from Netflix, the US movie-streaming people, who announced plans to launch in the UK early next year.  YES!  Having recently become an addict of the brilliant music-streaming site Spotify, I am utterly taken with the idea that I should be able to access any music/film, ever made anywhere in the world, at the click of a button and on any console I choose, for a modest monthly fee.  This is my new expectation.  But like many of you, I have been mightily frustrated that movie-streaming is so far behind its music equivalent.  BUT ALL THIS IS TO CHANGE!  Early next year...  I have a birthday in January.  They must know this.  :-)