Remain – Brexit. Hmmm. And where does that leave the Robots?

Remain – Brexit. Hmmm. And where does that leave the Robots?

Now the Referendum result is known the arguments are really getting started.

What seems to be apparent if you use Twitter, Facebook et al, is that the most vocal commentators/recriminators seem to see the issue as very digital, on – off, yes- no, Right – Wrong.

Of course nothing in human life is all right or all wrong. One thing you can say with certainty is that people are not robots.

Can Robots be human though?

Does it influence your opinion of the referendum result I wonder, to read the draft Report of the Committee on Legal Affairs of the European Parliament – link here – which intends to give recommendations to the Commission on Civil law Rules on Robotics?

In a coda to his Three Laws of Robotics of which Isaac Asimov might be proud, given that the Report is of May 2016 and his Laws were formulated in the early 1940s, the document seeks to create its own code of robot behaviour.

It also suggests that there should be legislation to ensure that financial benefits flowing from the implementation of robot systems to a business should result in additional taxation.

Critics of the EU will find much here to fuel mockery of its Parliament’s apparent wish to micromanage and create bureaucracy at every stage.

Engineers and software writers will find much to mock in its apparent schoolboy level of understanding. For example the directive that all robots be imbued with the doctrine “do no harm” – robots should not harm a human.

[The makers of self-driving cars will find that a hoot – already they are grappling with the dilemma of “algorithmic morality”. Ten children play a game of chicken on the M1. Your car must hit them or crash into the barrier and kill you. Ten lives against one, what should it do? And if you know your car is programmed to kill you in certain cases, will you buy one? Emo Phillips has tweeted “in the year 2030 Mom will say don’t play in the road, you’ll say why?”]

American commentators are laughing at the report, saying this sort of thing parallels the behaviour of past failing Empires, that the EU is spending long days and millions of euros in debating stuff like this whilst the rest of the world builds cheaper robots without a stifling framework of bureaucracy and insurance and doesn’t worry about their “rights”.

Yes, the “Rights” of the Robots. No, really. [ the Report says – We, EU, should explore creating a specific legal status for robots, so that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons with specific rights and obligations].

So there’s that.

On the other hand, the traditional method of dealing with new technology is to make the laws later, after the death tolls rise. And the EU is intending to try to change that. For example, the railways, first came the London Brighton line collision of 1861, twenty three dead, one hundred and seventy five in hospital, then people had a bit of a think and came up with the bright idea of block-signalling. You know, keep the trains apart a bit; might be worth a try.

So anyway, UK has voted to leave this talking shop. And I still don’t know what to think about that. Here’s a song And I don’t know where I am.

Assuming that you still have business in Europe or beyond, please do contact me and Louise to help you transact it whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)

Slavery in England. Illegal since 1833. Not Abolished in 2016?

Slavery in England. Illegal since 1833. Not Abolished in 2016?

A shocking case of Modern Day Slavery has reached a Court decision published this month.

The case is of several Lithuanian men who were effectively enslaved working for DJ Houghton Catching Services Limited and its Officers Darrel Houghton and Jacqueline Judge between 2008 and 2012.

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority stated that the men were treated as slaves, and described DJ Houghton as “the worst UK Gangmaster ever.”

[Whatever that means, in the absence of others, cited as “less worst Gangmasters”, by comparison. Presumably, it is a soundbite for the papers but it’s not a contest and it means evil].

The work, which involved unpaid travel “bussing” around farm after farm, was to catch chickens in the dark [seems they are a bit less scratchy and difficult in the dark] for extremely low pay from which, even so, random “punishment” deductions were taken.

Catching 6000 birds an hour, covered in chicken droppings, mud, feathers, being attacked by frightened chickens flying at them in the dark. They worked 120 hours a week, no contracts, no training and even no protective clothing and their intermediary – the agent of the Company, was a big man with a Rottweiler dog.

All of the men suffered accidents with no compensation or payment for necessary time off work.

Ironic that some of the eggs collected are marketed as “Happy Eggs”. Maybe that’s the brand you buy, they are probably “organic”. Yum.

The result of the case is apparently the first time that a British Company has been found liable to compensate victims of people-trafficking – Slavery.

The link to the case report is here

The words of the National Union of Farmers Chief Horticulture Adviser, Ms Hayley Campbell-Gibbons may be worth pondering. She remarks that these farming cases can now be dealt because of the regulations and the regulators created after the disaster of the drownings of the Chinese Cockle-picker slaves in Morecambe in 2004 – the Gangmasters [Licensing] Act 2004. This Act regulates the supply of workers to agriculture, horticulture and shellfishing.

She says that the new regulations are enabling cases like this one to be heard and making it harder for criminals to work in these industries. Accordingly, the consequence is that criminals “will move into unregulated sectors, such as construction, catering or care homes”.

Care homes? Unregulated? I wonder what the Care Quality Commission thinks about that.

So in order to supply organic free-range eggs from happy hens to people who don’t like their breakfast egg to come from chickens living in slavery, these men lived like battery chickens. Life can be complicated.

The message apart from the fact that all of us need to think about what we buy, and where it comes from, must be that slavery is real and it is happening today in Britain.

It needs to be stopped, the Courts will stop it and punish it when they can. We should all keep our eyes open.

Link here to Slave Song

Back to Business – for accurate Notarial acts and records, please do contact me or Louise whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)

If You Trespass For Twenty Years, You Are Allowed To Carry On? Not Always, It Turns Out.

If You Trespass For Twenty Years, You Are Allowed To Carry On? Not Always, It Turns Out.

Two subjects today, the first is in my opinion a victory for common sense, enshrined in a new Court decision about Prescriptive claims to land, sometimes called “Squatters’ Rights. [Though not!]. The second has been filling my Twitter feed all day.

The first link is here.

The case relates to land nearby a fish and chip shop. The chip shop owners did not own the land, but it was open unfenced and very handy for their customers to use to park offroad. Each customer’s car was likely parked only a few minutes, but, whilst ever the shop was open, new cars would be arriving all the time and the “car park” therefore very busy.

The land was owned by a members’ Club. The land was unfenced because the Club Members used it to park there. The Club was not happy about the chip shop customers, it had even put up a sign saying “Private Car Park, – For use of Club Patrons only. By Order of the Committee”

This situation had continued for over twenty years.

The Law of England says that rights in land – “Easements” – do not have to be bought for money, or documented in writing. If the person claiming the easement can show that they [including previous owners] have used – “enjoyed” – the easement for over twenty years, there is a legal fiction of the “lost modern Grant”, under which they can apply to the Land Registry to have their claim registered as an easement in their favour.

However, the Land Registry [or ultimately the Court, in the event of dispute] will tell you that it is also necessary to show that the easement has been enjoyed throughout that period under three conditions.

First – without permission. Because if I allow you to park on my land today, I can ask you not to do it any more tomorrow. I am retaining control.

And second, enjoyment without secrecy. Because, if you only park on my land whilst I am asleep, in order to ensure that I don’t know about it, then I am being given no opportunity to object.

And thirdly, enjoyment without force. As an extreme example, if you are ten foot tall and ugly looking, and given to carrying a weapon, and the last time I asked you not to park there you hit me a lot and hurt me, then it is not surprising if I stay away from you. The law does not think this behaviour gives you any rights in my land.

So in this case it seems that the situation had carried on this way for over twenty years. Without permission [indeed, there was a sign, saying in effect, you do not have permission to park here]. And without secrecy. [The cars were parked openly and obviously. Is there any other way for chipshop customers to park cars?].

And at the Court hearing it was common ground that there had been no “face-offs” or violence or threats of violence or force.

So, what you think. Who won the case? On the facts as I put them, you may think the Chip shop owners. But who should have won the case? I think the Club. It is their land, there was a sign. They could have come up with some fencing I suppose, and given their members keys to the new gates, but that costs money and why should they?

So as you will know if you clicked on the link and read the case, yes, hooray, it was the Club.

No easement of parking was registered, the Claim was denied.

But, if it had been going on for twenty years without permission secrecy or force it should have been registered?

No, The Court decided that there WAS force. Force does not mean only brute force, violence or conflict or threats. The Judge said “The phrase ‘without force’ carries rather more than its literal meaning. It is not enough for the person asserting the right to show that he has not used violence. He must show that his user was not contentious or allowed only under protest”

Clearly, the use was made under protest. The Protest was written on the wall – “Private Car Park, – For use of Club Patrons only. By Order of the Committee”. And as an aside, the Judge told us that if the sign had been removed, it would not even have been necessary for the Club to keep paying to replace it.

Good news then. In other good news this week, a cow has been rescued after getting stuck in a tree. Link here So it’s all good. For now. Referendum result next week, mind. Time for a song

And whichever way that goes, for accurate Notarial acts and records, please do contact me or Louise whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)

More Fear from the Taxman

More Fear from the Taxman

There is a new Corporate Report issued on the Government’s HMRC Website Link Here. It is either written by illiterates unfamiliar with the meaning of words, or, much more likely and scary, it actually means what it says.

To backtrack a little, I have written earlier blogs about the difference between Tax Evasion [crime] and Tax Avoidance [not a crime – well, until the meaning of the words have been changed]. Links here

Examples of Tax Avoidance include – Tax avoidance, buying an ISA. Tax avoidance, spending money to improve the fabric of the house you let to your tenants. Tax avoidance, giving money to charity. Tax avoidance, leaving money to your spouse in your Will.

The new corporate report tells us that so far as the Revenue is concerned, Tax evasion and Tax avoidance [which are in fact opposites] are much the same thing.

The expression they use time and again is “Tax avoidance and tax evasion”. [Sometimes it’s “Tax evasion and Tax avoidance.” Ringing the changes a bit].

Linking the two opposites together as synonyms. The intention presumably being to trigger a mental image of general badness and moral turpitude in our little Pavlov’s doggy minds, when the words are repeated over and over again.

As in
“The Government has been relentless in its crackdown on tax evasion and tax avoidance”
As in
“We will also raise an additional £5 billion a year by 2020 by tackling tax avoidance and tax planning, evasion and compliance”.

So yes, if you go in for a bit of Tax Planning, you rotten criminal you.

And Crikey Mikey, they are going to attack tax compliance. [I suspect the idiot writer/proofreader was too excited, thumping away on his spittle-flecked computer, to notice that what they are “against” is actually non-compliance not the opposite].

If the HMRC report is actually more than a kind of written shot in the arm to encourage its tax collectors, then it seems to be a clear statement that what they consider to be bad tax behaviour will be punished – whether or not it is perfectly legal.

So who needs a democracy, House of Parliament, laws, all that malarkey?

It seems to me that there is a lot of name-calling when say, Jimmy Carr, is found to have perfectly legally avoided a lot of tax. Everyone seems to enjoy it when a person who is richer than they are gets into the news for doing nothing wrong.

But one day, it may be you they come for. Not so funny then.

Certainly it will simpler, when all earnings for everyone in the country are paid direct to the HMRC , so that it can deduct whatever its version of morality dictates should be deducted, and then if there is anything left, we can apply for it to be paid to us. Easier really. But a little bit fascist, n’est-ce pas

Let’s go to this week’s song. Before the taxman takes the money in our kitty and our dignity.

In the meantime, as always, for accurate Notarial acts and records, please do contact me or Louise whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)

Apostille Service on Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates. Louise Explains.

Apostille Service on Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates. Louise Explains.

See earlier Blogs [link here] for explanation of the Hague Convention “Apostille” stamp.

We receive many enquiries from clients asking whether we can obtain an “Apostille” on a Birth, Death or Marriage Certificate. The answer to this question is “Yes”.

The Apostille is issued by the Foreign Office in Milton Keynes.

There would be no requirement on our part to notarise the said certificate. We are able to obtain an Apostille in respect of the Registrar who has signed the said certificate.

Of course for many jurisdictions the document will require to be Notarised and in that case the Apostille will refer to Mr Atkinson.

The process must be for the original [NB original only] Birth, Death or Marriage Certificate to be sent to us [this can be posted or brought to us in person].

Often the original Certificate in your possession may have some sentimental value to you. It may be dated the date of your marriage, or birth.

If so, then give us the relevant details and we can obtain a new Certificate directly from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Do note that what you understand to be the Original Certificate is still headed “Certified Copy”.

This is a source of confusion to many. It derives from the fact that what the Certificate is confirming, is the recording of a Birth or a Death or Marriage in the relevant Register which may be held in a Church or Registry Office or Coroners Court or wherever. That original record is not going to be removed from its place of storage, so the issued Certificate is necessarily going to be a Certified Copy of the source material.

However, the issued Certified Copy is an Original Document. It is subject to Crown Copyright and may not be photocopied. If a photocopy is submitted to the Foreign Office, the FCO will reject it and refuse to attach the Apostille.

Once we have that certificate we are then able to arrange for this to be sent directly to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and obtain an Apostille. The usual timescale to get this back with its Apostille is around 5 days.

Our fee for this service is £75 plus VAT. The Foreign Office charge £30 per Apostille [plus £5.50 courier fee] and there would be special delivery postage payable at £7 plus VAT. The total therefore for one Certificate to be Apostilled is £132.90 inc VAT.

There will be a further cost if you require us to obtain the “Original” [Certified Copy] Certificate directly from the General Records Office or relevant Registry.

There is also an expedited service available for obtaining Apostilles – if your matter is of a very urgent nature then we can obtain the Apostille within two days. If you would like to know more about the expedited service please contact us by email or phone [details listed below] for further information.

If you have any queries on any of the services that we offer then please so not hesitate to email us louise@atkinsonnotary.com and notary@atkinsonnotary.com or alternatively please telephone on 0113 8160116 or 07715608747. Please also feel free to visit our website http://www.atkinsonnotary.com