Did I Get Married In Ghana? I’ve Never Been There

Did I Get Married In Ghana? I’ve Never Been There

I wonder whether this blog could start with a request for assistance please? If you go to my website you will see that it has been updated. The hope is that navigation will be a little easier. As with all computer changes, the easy bit seems to be the writing and installing of the new program followed then by the harder bit of identifying any errors or bugs.

For example a website that renders well on a PC might not look the same on a tablet or a phone, sometimes links may not be operative on all computer systems. So could I ask you, if you do spot a bug or any problem with the new site, be a pal and let me or Louise know?

Ok. The Blog. As often it’s about the clash between the English way of doing things, and a foreign country’s procedures and laws.

And how it can fall to Notaries to “square the circle”.

The question – a Notary colleague has been asked to witness and authenticate a Deed which a lady wants to sign in England in order to get married in Mexico. Not unusual on the face of it, I do loads of these for folk wanting to get married in all countries, Italy Australia and the Caribbean being favourites.

Yes, but, this particular Deed is also a Power of Attorney. She wants to appoint someone in Mexico to go to the wedding on her behalf – she can’t go. And more remarkable still, her fiancé is a German who is signing something similar in Germany and he won’t be going to Mexico either.

The documents wouldn’t work in England. You have to go to your own wedding in England. I have spent a while trying and failing to find legal authority for that previous sentence. Perhaps the authority is the lack of any legal framework that says you don’t. Or perhaps the authority is, YOU JUST DO!

So, if we accept that in England you have to attend in person to get married, but that in Mexico you don’t, can I as a Notary assist you in England to set up your Mexican marriage that you won’t be going to?

My view is, that England will recognise a marriage if it is recognised in the Country where it takes place, so yes, crack on.

But is that the end of it? I am saying I can assist in England to facilitate a procedure which is not possible in England.

What if I were being asked to facilitate something actually illegal in England but legal abroad? Polygamy for example. Not bigamy mind that’s something else. [There are several countries and religions which will recognise that a (usually) man can have several (usually) wives. And England will recognise as valid a polygamous marriage if it is valid where it was made]

No, I’ve got nothing. OK I’ll answer that one when it happens.

When you rootle through the internet for legal case law on any arcane topic, you find surprises. The link coming up is to the 1993 case of McCabe v McCabe.

The English Court allowed a divorce case to be heard, declaring that a marriage had taken place in Ghana and was valid.

The husband had pleaded that it wasn’t. He said – I am paraphrasing wildly– “I didn’t go to Ghana – I didn’t go to any wedding, neither did she.”

“I was living with her in London when we found out she was pregnant. My old uncle went to see her family in Ghana to give the news. Uncle gave the family £100.00 and a bottle of rum and they had a party and then uncle came back to London and told us we were married.”

The husband told the Court – “that can’t be right can it?”

Well, here is the news for Mr McCabe, he had committed matrimony and didn’t even know it.

Here is – the download Link –  It is safe, it will open in read-only mode

Here’s a happy song about a nervous breakdown. “This is not my beautiful wife” – Mmmm  You sure about that?

As ever, if you require our services or 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 visit our website http://www.atkinsonnotary.com






You Don’t Know what You’ve Got Till It’s Gone.

You Don’t Know what You’ve Got Till It’s Gone.

Here is a recent decision of the Courts which gives a clear reminder that not everything has a price.

It is a decision on appeal from a Tribunal decision which was in my view plainly wrong although understandable.

A builder, Millgate Developments Limited, has obtained planning permission to develop land which it owns by building thirteen brand new “affordable homes”.

This kind of building is apparently something that the country is “crying out for” in the language of politicians. Many readers might well also agree that social housing of this kind is in short supply and is indeed, broadly speaking, to be encouraged.

After it was finished, ownership of the development was transferred to a Social Housing charity and tenants have moved in to live there.

It might seem a little surprising therefore that the Court has ordered that all of the tenants must leave so that the entire development can be demolished and the land returned to its previous state as open land.

The Builders will lose all of their work and money spent in building the estate, all of the court fees, and will either have to build a replacement estate somewhere else or else pay an additional approximately £1.6 million pounds to the council for failing to do so.

What? Why? Eh?

It goes back to an agreement made in 1972, before Millgate were the owners of the land.

The history is that in 1972 the land was part of a farm and had been sold by the farmer who retained most of the rest of his farm. The terms of that sale were that the land sold should stay open and not have any building upon it and not used for anything except the parking of vehicles. No doubt the price paid for the land was less than it would have been if there had been no such restriction.

The purpose of the restriction was to enforce the farmer’s preference that the rural beauty of the area should not be spoilt by buildings, so that the farmer would have a lovely view to contemplate whilst doing his farming. He could have got more money if he had not insisted on this, but money was not his top priority.

It seems that when Millgate Developments Limited got its hand upon the title to the land, it knew jolly well that the land they wanted to build upon, was “encumbered” by this restriction, called by lawyers a “restrictive covenant”.

Whilst the rules regarding the passing of the benefit and burden of these restrictive covenants are complicated, all we need to know is that the existence of this restriction was well known to Millgate Developments Limited, who clearly decided to take a gamble.

They decided to build anyway and face the music, if there would be any music, later on. No doubt thinking – we are in business to make money. We won’t make money unless we build, building is what we do.

By the time that this decision was taken, the farmer had also transferred nearby land (in lawyer-speak, the “dominant land”) by a gift to a neighbour.

So Millgate Developments Limited seem to have taken the view that everything can be solved by money, let’s crack on lads, build our development and get it full of tenants, then offer the neighbour some brass to go away and stop complaining.

And let’s really crack on and get the building finished and everything done and dusted and loads of new tenant making homes in it, before the Courts can interfere.

After all they probably thought, is a Court really going to throw out a load of tenants from their desperately needed new homes and make us knock it all down, just so that the neighbour can continue to enjoy the view?

More likely, they will slap our wrists, make us chuck a few grand at the neighbour and everyone is happy.

How do you feel about this?

On the one hand, it is an awful waste of money and a terrible disappointment to people living in their newly built affordable home, to pull it all down.

On a different one hand, it’s just bullying isn’t it? The Builder probably thinks, if we make it really expensive for the neighbour to complain to the courts and risk wasting lots of money if he loses, he’ll give up and take some money from us and go and look for a lovely view somewhere else.

And it may be that the Builder, being motivated by money making, assumes that everyone else is too. I don’t know.

There is a type identified by Bob Dylan :-
“Businessmen, they drink my wine
“Ploughmen dig my earth
“None of them along the line know what any of it is worth”

And by Oscar Wilde, who describes a cynic as “a person who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Happily, I don’t think that the Judges of the Court of Appeal base their decisions upon whether there has been bullying or whether the personalities of the litigants are identifiable in poetry and song. That is for commentators and people who write Blogs.

Nor will the Judges, happily again, be intimidated by the cost of the consequences in waste and expense, of making the correct decision and simply applying the law. The Law that is, being English Land Law and the rules of restrictive covenants.

To my mind, if the law cannot be applied and enforced, the Judges might as well retire and leave the country to the builders.

I think that Millgate Developments Limited should learn a lesson from all of this. Don’t be a bully. So hooray for the Courts and the Law of England – here is the judgment – Link Here-.

It may be there are some readers who think that a private contract of this sort between a Buyer and a seller should not be allowed to live on after both of them have sold their personal interests and that “of course” a rich land owner should not get his view back when an expensive development benefiting poorer members of society has made things less rural and private.

Land Owner –so = “Rich” = “Bad” yes?

Boo Hoo, they might be thinking.

I hope not though, can’t be doing with either sentiment or kneejerk reactions, the law’s the law, eh?

In this particular case then, perhaps a bit of a quandary for that kind of thinking, when it turns out that the owner of the dominant land is a Hospice for terminally ill children, which is providing a secluded home, with outside areas of woodland and rural views in which those children could spend their last days on Earth in a place of peace and quiet and beauty.

Or they could have done, until Millgate Developments Limited started building.

Here’s a song – link here if you’ve got ten minutes

As ever, if you require our services or 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 visit our website http://www.atkinsonnotary.com

Probate Money Grab – It’s Back On

Probate Money Grab – It’s Back On

I mentioned in –Link Here – this Blog the amazing Government proposal that the Court fee for issuing Probate should increase from today’s maximum – of £215 (£430 for a couple dying, one shortly after the other), – to £6000.00 (or £12,000.00 for a couple dying, one shortly after the other,)

 The figures above are actually less than was originally proposed. Not that that matters at all to the principle of the thing.

The work done by the Court in issuing a Grant of Probate typically is to check that a Solicitor or applicant in person has got the sums right, then to apply a stamp and presumably make an entry on a computer.

Time involved – what? – 30 minutes with a cup of coffee, less than that if it’s getting near to going home.


£430.00 is a bit high, that fee, isn’t it? The Government’s own figures confirm that the fee is well adequate to cover the cost of supplying the service. So, £12,000.00 per couple is clearly not a fee is it, it’s a tax.

In essence no difference to going into a shop for cigarettes and getting them free if you are on benefits and having to pay a made-up figure of hundreds of pounds (or however much the government feels like) if you have got a nice house.

Now is the time to write to your MP, if you think this is wrong. The reasons why you may think it is wrong might be
• because you believe that the estate of a person who has died has already suffered tax, because the income that was earned during life was subject to income tax, and that the same estate will be subject to Inheritance Tax, and that a third tax for Probate fees is one tax too many
• because you believe that a conservative government should support the idea of hard work generating capital which can pass from parent to child rather than be swiped in two separate ways on the parent’s death
• because if you voted conservative, you did not vote for this
• Because if you do wish to vote for politicians who are conservatives, but the ones in government behave like this, then there doesn’t seem to be any party you can actually vote for.

A much more articulate person than I is John Eaton, a Consultant Solicitor in Leeds, who has sent me a copy of his letter to his MP and with his consent the rest of this Blog is that letter. If you think he is wrong let me know. If you think he is right, maybe tell your MP. NOW, would be a good time!

Dear Philip

I apologise for bending your ear yet again with another tirade against this iniquitous, unfair and totally unjustifiable stealth tax, which the Government insist on describing (wrongly) as an “increase in fees” – but following the very disappointing outcome of the Parliamentary Committee meeting on Thursday this week (when the proposal was inexplicably passed by 9 votes to 8) it seems that the only way of preventing this regrettable and sordid little proposal from becoming law, will be for MPs to vote it down when the proposal comes before the Commons in the near future.

For this reason, and knowing that you also regard the levy of this tax as wrong and unjustified, I am hoping that you lay also be able to influence some of your fellow MPs to vote against the proposal when it is presented.

I am sure that you will be familiar with all the arguments against the proposal, and the total absence of any argument in favour of it, but just to re-cap briefly on three of the main arguments for voting against the proposal, as usefully summarised in the following explanation by the Law Society:

The Law Society’s key positions on the Non-Contentious Probate (Fees) Order 2018

• We believe the dramatic increase in fees amounts to a stealth tax. We agree with the conclusions of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, and the House of Lords that the scale of the fee increase is a misuse of the Lord Chancellor’s fee-levying power. (By way of additional comment from me: – to completely ignore the conclusions of those authoritative bodies is both unreasonable and arrogant in the extreme)

• The fee increase is disproportionate. The service involved in a grant of probate is the same whether an estate is worth £50,000 or £2 million. However, under the new proposals, some estates would face a charge of £6,000. This is excessive, particularly when compared to the current fee of £215 (or £155 if done by a solicitor).

• It is unfair to expect the bereaved to fund or subsidise other parts of the court and tribunal service, particularly in circumstances where they have no other options but to use the probate service.

For these reasons, the Law Society urges members of the Fourteenth Delegated Legislation Committee and other members of the House to object to the Order, and to vote against the motion to approve

Just to add to the above, I stress that the work for which the alleged ”fee” is charged, comprises about half an hour of pure administrative work – nearly all done by computer anyway, and which does not bear any relation to the size of the estate, nor does the proposed “fee” have any bearing on the cost of providing the service. For these reason, the proposed tax has been universally condemned by all the relevant professional bodies – Solicitors, Accountants, Trust & Probate Practitioners – and yet the Government STILL ignores these objections and STILL refuses to acknowledge that the levying of a fee of up to £6,000 for a service which currently costs £155, is unreasonable and is a tax, not a fee.

In passing, I must say on that point, that I find it surprising that Lucy Frazer QC doesn’t know the difference between a fee and a tax. Although (as you know) I wrote to her explaining that a “fee” is a charge for a service provided and will reflect the time, effort and skill in providing that service, and a “tax” is a levy on a document or transaction will usually vary with the value of the transaction, it was clear from her reply (via you, for which thanks!) that she simply doesn’t understand that difference, and still sees nothing wrong with raising a tax on service “A” (issuing a Grant of Representation) in order to subsidise service “B” (the Justice System generally).

On this basis, why doesn’t the Government charge a fee on Undertakers’ invoices, of, say, 25% of the amount of the invoice, in order to subsidise Legal Aid? There would be just as much logic in that, as in this outrageous “Death Tax.”

Needless to say, I am also dismayed – nay, even disgusted – that a Conservative Party, which claims to believe in freedom and justice should seek to impose such an unjust and unjustified tax on the relatives of dead people (in addition to all the lifetime taxes and Inheritance Tax which the Deceased will have paid in their lifetimes). If there were an alternative Party which claimed to believe in freedom, fairness and individual responsibility, but unlike this one, actually practised what it preached, I am sorry to say that I wouldn’t hesitate to vote for such a party in place of a Conservative Party which appears to have jettisoned entirely the principles of fairness on which it was launched, and prefers to sacrifice morality on the altar of financial gain.

I do hope that you will not only vote against this outrageous and sordid little proposal, but may be able to persuade all your Parliamentary Colleagues also to do so.

With best wishes


In summary – They just want your money really and they will lie and distort to get it. Personally, I’d rather John Lee Hooker got it. Link here

Finally – Remember, if you require our services or 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

Do You Need To Prove Your Educational Certificates Abroad? Louise Can Help You.

Overseas clients – When you need assistance with notarising/legalising your educational certificate(s) – Please get in touch we can help

If you are not in England but require your educational certificates notarised and/or legalised i.e Foreign Office Apostille and/or Embassy stamps then you will be pleased to hear that it is not obligatory that we see you in person, – you will be pleased to hear that we can deal with your requirements using email and post.

The typical process would be for you to email directly to us and attach scan(s) of the certificates you require verifying and then notarising/legalising.

If you then require copies (not originals) of your certificates to be notarised/legalised then there is no need for you to send us the original certificate(s).

Once scans of the certificate(s) have been received I would be able to revert back to you at that point with a quote to carry out the work.

It is also usual for some educational institutions to require a signed consent before they will confirm to us that your document is genuine– again we can deal with this via email. We will prepare the necessary consent as an email for signing, dating and return.

The notarisation given in relation to Educational certificates, is to confirm to the foreign jurisdiction that your original certificate(s) is authentic/genuine.

The verification process and what does it entail?

The process for verifying an Educational certificate i.e your Degree/Masters certificate. Basically we contact the University to confirm that your certificate is genuine. Some Educational institutions charge a small fee to release this information to us – usually this us around £15. The timescales involved can vary in receiving verification – typically it can be around a week

Notarisation process

Once verification has been received we are then ready to certify the certificate(s) as genuine as verified and place the Notary’s stamp and seal upon the original/copy certificate. We must also state on the certificate that the educational institute is an accredited institute in England and Wales. It you are not sure whether you would require your original or copy certificate notarised then you would need to check with the end recipient as to what that require.

Legalisation process

Some countries require that the certificate(s) go through the “legalisation process”. If you are unsure as to whether you do require legalisation please do contact us and we can confirm the guidance for the particular country in question or you can check with the end user whether they require legalisation.

What is legalisation?

For some countries notarisation is not enough they also require the certificate(s) in question to go through a “legalisation” process – in a nutshell this entails submitting the certificate(s) to the Foreign Office for an “Apostille” stamp. This stamp is issued by the British Government and confirms that the Notary who has certified the document is genuine and the Apostille stamp contains a unique number which is back-checkable on the internet and relates to your specific document. The Foreign Office Apostille stamp is £30 per document.

And sometimes, in some counties even the Apostille stamp alone is not enough and the requirement is that the document should also be submitted to the country’s Embassy.

The Embassy stamp issued confirms that the Foreign Office Apostille stamp is genuine.

The fees vary from Embassy to Embassy i.e UAE currently charge £37.50 per certificate and The Peoples Republic of China charges £32 per certificate etc…

You will be pleased to note that we offer the full package – whether you require notarising and/or legalisation.

We have many years of experience in dealing with Educational certificates for clients and we make it our business to keep up to date with the requirements for all countries of the world so as to provide a top notch service for our clients. If you need assistance then do not delay, get in touch, you will not regret it.

Remember, if you require our services or if you have any queries on any of the services that we offer then please do 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 www.atkinsonnotary.com

Not All Friends Are Toxic. Surely?

Happy New Year, first of all.

Christmas is just behind us in our mirrors, and “Goodwill to All” is a motto to live up to. However – within limits –  I would suggest.

If there are any avid readers of my Blogs, they will remember my horror stories of the consequences which can follow acts of generosity – links to blogs –here- and –here-.  And for good measure, a Solicitors Tribunal case, punishing a Solicitor who did sloppy work for friends -here-

These are cases where friends have asked for free professional help and been given free help – but when things have gone badly they have viciously bitten the helping hand.

Remember the fable of Androcles and the Lion? The gist being, if you befriend a lion with a thorn in its paw by removing the thorn, salving and binding the paw and generally sorting the job then the lion will not bite you all to bits when you next meet in the arena. Instead Leo will repay you by purring and requesting tummy rubs.

The motto being – “Gratitude is the sign of Noble Souls”

All very fine and dandy, but arguably there is one thing to bear in mind about fables and fairy stories.

It is, the “not-being-true” thing.

Whilst everything went fine in the made up story, what do we expect of the lion if Androcles had mucked up? Pulled the thorn back out not noticing it was hugely barbed. Treated it with the wrong kind of salve so that the paw turned green and dropped off? Perhaps a little optimistic if you think his lion pal is going to say – “No bother Androcles, not your fault”  “Well, second thoughts, it is your fault but hey – you had a go and your heart’s in the right place.”

Anyway, one of those cases was that of Mrs Lejonvarn, an architect. Her close friends and neighbours Mr and Mrs Burgess mentioned to her in 2012 or so that they wanted to transform their garden in Highgate into something really special. Serious landscaping and structural work for which builders would have to be paid serious money.

Given that supplying architectural services is Mrs Lejonvarn’s professional skill which has taken her years to acquire and from which she earns her living, how generous of her to offer to assist and to do so FREE OF CHARGE. Is she mad, is she a Saint? It’s not as if the Burgesses had no money, or were in any kind of distress. Or were lions, with thorns.

Why do professional people fall for this time and again? I wonder –“could you just take a look at this for me?” is how it starts.

So anyway, my earlier Blogs related to the first Court hearing, when it was established by the original decision, and confirmed upon Appeal that whether or not there was any contractual obligation to do work (there wasn’t) or any money paid (there wasn’t) nevertheless Mrs Lejonvarn is required by law to “use reasonable skill and care” in respect of such work as she carried out.

Really I am surprised that Mrs Lejonvarn was even advised to contest those hearings. I should have thought the result would have been obvious. All the court was really saying, by analogy, was that if you ask your friend who is a doctor to give you free treatment and if the doctor does agree to do that, then the treatment given must be as careful and correct as it should have been within a paid contract – Doc is not entitled to be careless and thereby kill you just because his work is a “favour”.

But recently the full case has been decided. Here is the full report –Link Here –

Seven or so years after the start of all this, surprise surprise, it turns out that the Burgesses have nothing concrete or credible to say. Their grievance seems to be based upon a misconception that Mrs L had given them a fixed budget for the work – though even there they seem confused between them as to whether this was £78,000.00 or £130,000.00.

In their minds, this meant that because the actual work cost them nearly £400,000.00, therefore the overspend was entirely her fault and she should pay them £270,000.00 or so. Never mind that they sacked her in 2013 and nothing that was done to the garden after that involved her in the slightest.

Never mind that the Judge could not find a single instance in which they had satisfied him that Mrs L’s work fell short of the necessary standard of reasonable skill and care.

What the Burgesses failed to understand was that Mrs L was helping them from the kindness of her heart. Whatever she agreed to do, she did well.

But Mr and Mrs B were complaining in essence about what Mrs L had not done at all.

  • She had not micromanaged the construction work,
  • She had not acted as if she were a Building Surveyor.
  • She had not ensured that the construction was not unsafe (though no evidence was produced of any unsafety).

As the Judge had to explain to the Burgesses, if someone helps you, you are lucky. But you have no right to require or expect your friend to do anything over and above what they are willing to do. In essence, the difference between the obligations imposed by a contract, and by common law “Tort”.

And how on earth is your friend is supposed to be responsible for the cost of the work carried out after you sack her?

What the Judge heard was, in my opinion, an entirely inappropriate wail of rage from the Burgesses whose sense of grievance may have blinded them to all else.

At any rate when a Judge reviews your evidence in terms such as “offends common sense” and “wholly unsupported by the evidence” or “this claim suggests that the Claimants seek to punish the Defendant ….rather than seek fair compensation”, it is pretty clear that his concluding words will be “This Claim is Dismissed”

Of course the next argy bargy will be – who pays the extremely substantial Court costs?

There is nothing in the court report to define one way or the other the effect of all this upon Mrs Lejonvarn. Upon her mental and physical health and upon her own wealth and time. Imagine if you were she – Six years of worry and sleepless nights?

What have I learnt? Nothing I didn’t already know –

  • Clients are not all toxic by any means.
  • Charge them fairly and do your best job for them.
  • Friends are not all toxic by any means.
  • But they are friends, and not clients.
  • They can’t be both, not if you want to sleep at night.
  • Or want friends.

Or Frenz – Link to The Fall-

Remember, if you require our services or if you have any queries on any of the services that we offer then please do 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 www.atkinsonnotary.com


Lawyers, Latin, Highwaymen, Mopeds and so on.

Lawyers, Latin, Highwaymen, Mopeds and so on.

Does a Lawyer Need The Latin These Days?

I was learning Law in the 1970’s and whilst I have a Latin O’level, I never really needed to remember what Latin I had actually learnt in order to become a Solicitor.

It is many hundreds of years since the English court actually heard its cases in Latin, if they ever did.

From 1066 the official language of this country was French, or an anglicized version of it, until around the time of Henry V. However for whatever reason, our court transcripts and acts of parliament were written in Latin.

And the Romans a thousand years earlier had a system of Law which continues to be the basis of much of the Law of England today and naturally that was written in Latin.
It is a long time since any deep knowledge of Latin was essential for Lawyers in UK, but there are still a good many principles of the Law which derive from Roman law and/or which are pithily expressed in Latin maxims.

So there is some basis for Peter Cook’s Coal Miner’s famous regret. He said, he would much rather have been a High Court Judge than a Coal Miner.

Unfortunately, he never “had the Latin”. So that was it and he became a Coal Miner. – “and I would much prefer to have been a Judge than a Coal Miner because of the absence of falling coal.”

And in spite of official changes in 1999 to try to make the Court processes more accessible to those of us who do not “have the Latin”, in fact the Latin expressions in the Law do continue to be appropriate.

Les Mots Justes, en effet, n’est ce pas?

So – in Loco Parentis (My father is an Engine Driver) and Status Quo (Riffy Rock Band) continue to be well understood references in our Court.

And to Rick Parfitt, RIP. (Requiescat in Pace, that is. Latin, see).

I digress – well I have started now so I’ll carry on.

There are differences of attribution, as to the phrase and the Barrister, but most sources name the famous Sir Edward Marshall Hall defending his Irish peasant client for the following.

When the indignant Judge asked:-
“Has your client even heard of the words “Res Ipsa Loquitur”?” He replied – “My Lord, on the remote hillsides in County Donegal where my client hails from they speak of little else”.

So anyway, I just want to write about one Latin phrase – “Ex Turpi Causa Non Oritur Lex”.

Of course all of us in Donegal know that one. “From a Bad Cause, an action in Law does not arise”.

Example – you and your mate are horrible criminals. You decide to blow up my safe. Your pal is a bit clumsy with the gelignite and blows you up instead and you lose a limb. (Which admittedly, is a thing that can make your eyes water.)

SO:- then you issue court proceedings against him for the consequences of his carelessness, which you view as being a “right criminal liberty”, and then the court will tell you to go away at best. Because – Ex Turpi etc.

As far as I can ascertain, this motto has been in use through the ages immemorial. Because amazingly, who would have thought, human nature is the same now as it always was.

There is a case decided this year which mirrors a case from 1725. In 1725 the courts were a bit less touchy-feely than now, bear in mind.

In 1725 Mr Everet and Mr Williams were quietly going about their business of being Highwaymen. Not Coach Drivers, but stagecoach Robbers. Their “partnership” took in several lonely places on the unlit dirt roads of the Outer London area.

Then one dark and windy night, they had a bit of a windfall and hauled in over £200.00.
It is difficult to assess exactly how much money, in today’s values, that represented.

Most of the stuff we buy today did not exist in 1725, and all that Google tells me is that various comparables could justify a valuation of £200 in 1725 as being £30,000.00 now at the least, or perhaps as much as billions. The latter price, because the worlds of 1725 and 2018 hardly touch.

For one example, a family of two parents several children and two servants would have been able to live reasonably well in 1725 on an income of £200 per year- and try doing that today on only £30,000.00 a year. Only 3% of families earned as much as this.

The top 3% UK income now is over £300,000.00.

So all I can say is, £200.00 was an absolute fortune. And arguments about money only really arise when there is some money to argue about, don’t you find?

Therefore, when Mr Williams trotted off into the dark night with all of the swag, the bumper sum of over £200.00, with no regard for the claim of Mr Everet to have a half share, Mr Everet got cross.

This is what makes him seem so modern to me.

Instead of thinking, “I am a bad man and robbery is a bad thing to do and therefore Mr Williams is a bad man too so why am I surprised he has done this?”, he thought to himself – “This is a shocking liberty and something needs to be done about people like Mr Williams. Crikey, we are partners, this is awful.” There is no verbatim record, but I imagine that was his gist.

So off trots Mr E to see a dodgy lawyer, who drafts a claim against Mr W and files it at Court. Whilst the pleadings refer to their “partnership” more by euphemism than plain words (Latin or English) the Judges of 1725 were no more fooled than they would be today.

The solicitors who drafted the pleadings were arrested and fined £50 – a small fortune, and the drafting Attorney made to pay the Court costs.

Even more amusingly, both Everet and Williams were arrested and executed by hanging. (And today we get into a dither about police knocking thugs off mopeds – law enforcement was more robust in 1725, for better or worse).

And why were they both hanged and the solicitors punished? That’s right – “Ex Turpi Causa non oritur Lex”.

I bet Mr Everet wondered to himself on his last night under the shadow of the gibbet, “why didn’t I listen to those erudite farmers of County Donegal”. Again, I paraphrase.

But it would be wrong, I think, to view this case, as a historical amusement. These Everets and Williamses are the very thugs and self-absorbed idiot criminals who are so familiar today. And the case I referred earlier, this year was decided on the very same basis of “ex turpi.”

Here is – the link-

A chap Mr Gujra accepts £500 from father and son Roath for the little job of setting fire to their cars.

Later, he sued the Roaches for letting the Police arrest him and not helping him by “telling the Truth”

No mate – you won’t be winning that one, its ex turpi causa non oritur Lex, innit.

Or does anyone think they should all be hanged? Song here – Hang me

Remember, if you require our services or 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

Who Should Pay? And, What is Fairness?

Who Should Pay? And, What is Fairness?

I have written Blogs earlier, about problems which can be caused by rogue employees – by co-incidence they both involved the huge Supermarket Company WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC.

In the first case, Morrisons had to pay out compensation because a petrol pump attendant [that shows my age – let’s say, a man who worked at the till of a petrol station] went mad – or maybe he had been mad for years, but he suddenly let it show and attached a customer first with his fists, knocked him down and then kicked him.

Here is my Blog about that – Link Here-

The reason Morrisons had to pay compensation is because in England there is the concept of “vicarious liability”. An employer is liable to pay compensation for the consequences of civil wrongs “Torts” committed by its employees when they are working.

The thinking is that employers should recruit proper responsible people, and also supervise their actions sufficiently closely so as to ensure they behave well.

For example. if there is a bully in the office, harming co-workers lives and their mental health then an employer is liable to compensate for the harm done and also if the behaviour is not brought to an end.

When a wrongdoing is done by someone obviously at work, vicarious liability is relatively easy to identify.

But the law is imprecise at the edges. What if this petrol pump man had attacked a random person whilst on a bus on his way to work? Or whilst on holiday in Spain – paid for out of savings from earnings at work. Presumably, no vicarious liability.

What if a lorry driver carelessly runs you over, whilst making a stop at an ATM, half a mile from the route his employer had set him? Vicarious liability.

What if a lorry driver scheduled to drive from Leeds to London, carelessly runs you over at an ATM in Newcastle where he is skiving off to visit his girlfriend? Not Vicarious liability. He is too far removed from what he is employed to do, he is on a “frolic of his own” as the law calls it.

Another facet of the law surrounding the concept of vicarious liability, is that the motive of the employee is irrelevant. So if a bully wants to see fear, or a mad petrol kiosk attendant wants to see blood, or a lorry driver is simply careless, – doesn’t matter.

Say it again – motive doesn’t matter.

The second time Morrisons have been enmeshed in the complications of Vicarious Liability, is the one I blogged about here – Link here.

Quick summary:- Andrew Skelton worked for Morrisons as an internal auditor. He had access to personal data including bank details, NI numbers, phone numbers and possibly a lot more, about the employees of Morrisons. At least 5500 of them are represented in the Court claims but there may be over 100,000 of them according to some reports.

His problem was that Morrisons didn’t like him using their premises and computers to run his own “e-commerce” business when he was being paid to work for Morrisons.

I know – These prickly employers eh?

Having got into a lather about this sheer totalitarianism – the outdated mindset of Morrisons that their employees ought to spend their time at work attending solely to the affairs of Morrisons – he cooked up a cunning plan.

He downloaded all of the sensitive data to which he had access, and put it onto memory stick and took it home

He waited several weeks out of caution then he published all of the data online.

He is in prison now serving eight years. Good.

And Morrisons have been found liable to pay compensation to his victims. Vicarious Liability.

But the case has now been taken to the Court of Appeal by Morrisons. The argument they put forward is that this case is a very unusual one, because Skelton was primarily acting not in order to hurt the employees of Morrisons, who might suffer distress and worry and also perhaps financial loss to computer hackers – but only in order to hurt Morrisons and its business.

Skelton knew about the law of vicarious liability. He knew that Morrisons would be found liable for the consequences of this actions and he acted in order to maximise the financial loss to Morrisons.

So his crime was intended to hurt Morrison, and it has certainly worried one of the Judges of the previous hearing that the Court itself is being required find Morrisons liable vicariously and thereby, to do the criminal’s dirty work.

The spectre has arisen of the possibility of a new kind of financial terrorism.

At the latest Appeal hearing the Court has declined to change the basic rule that “Motive does not matter”. Here is a link to the hearing transcript – Link Here-.

Morrisons will have one more go I expect, an appeal to the Supreme Court.

What does the team think? The law is I suppose an attempt to structure acceptable behaviours. It is not true to say that the aim of jurisprudence is to make life fair for everyone, but certainly fairness comes into it, if only because manifest “unfairness” might be hard to define but easier to recognise, and ultimately can lead to public dissent, rioting and revolution.

Not that one person’s fairness is not another one’s unfairness. Certainly Morrisons feel it is unfair, that they may be facing pay-outs of millions for the behaviour of a criminal whose only aim was to make them pay out millions.

But the people whose data, which should have been kept safe, has been published openly onto the internet, will also feel it is unfair if Morrisons’ Appeal is successful, because that will mean that the only redress will be whatever they can get out of Skelton, who is in jail. So good luck with suing him for millions he presumably hasn’t got.

It seems to me that breaches of GDPR need to be taken out of the scope of the laws of vicarious liability.

If Parliament thinks that Morrisons have actually done something wrong [and remember, the Courts have enquired fully and don’t think it has] then Parliament should define that culpable behaviour.

Seems to me also that the whole concept of vicarious liability was originally to enable co-workers or the public to get compensation when they otherwise would not have been able to, in the context of a world which was much simpler and when the idea that a malicious keystroke on a computer could have consequences of the sort now facing Morrisons, was the stuff of science fiction.

But it is not science fiction now, and in my view we really don’t want to encourage economic terrorists whether idiots like Skelton or more ideologically driven idiots or enemies to get into jobs where they can bring down our country’s biggest economic engines, now do we?

That’s a bit of a gloomy thought. Cheer up – Link Here-

Remember, if you require our services or 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