Book Recommendation: The Racketeer by John Grisham

Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of the USA only four active federal judges have been murdered.
Judge Raymond Fawcett just became number five.
His body was found in the small basement of a lakeside cabin he had built himself and frequently used on weekends. When he did not show up for a trial on Monday morning, his law clerks panicked, called the FBI, and in due course the agents found the crime scene. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies - Judge Fawcett and his young secretary.
I did not know Judge Fawcett, but I know who killed him, and why.
I am a lawyer, and I am in prison.
It's a long story.

Available from Amazon


Sponsored post: Annuities aren’t the only option

Many people have lost faith in pensions. They have done so largely the income that can be derived from them is poor and they are faced with a gamble with annuity providers over how long they will live to enjoy the income they are receiving in lieu of the pension fund given up. This statement is true to some extent but it does not take into account that an annuity is only one option for pension income. The other common option is income drawdown. Income drawdown allows for a fund to remain invested while income is received. This has the benefit of the retiree retaining control over the longevity of the fund; on their death it can be passed to a dependent rather than to the coffers of the annuity provider. The situation is further improved where retirees have £20,000 guaranteed income from other sources. In this instance the entire pension fund is available as capital for the pension fund owner to use as they wish rather than being restricted to 25% tax free lump sum and the balance as income.

This blog was written by Andrew Neligan, a Chartered Financial Planner who helps legal professionals achieve their lifestyle goals.

Sponsored post: Would you turn away free money with no catch?

This is what people are doing every day by ignoring pensions as an option to boost their retirement savings. Admittedly, pensions have had a tough time recently; the Government have messed around with them so much very few people understand the rules, the 2007/8 stock market crash still looms large in people’s memories and current annuity rates are at historic lows. But this ignores the free money I was referring to. Free money that is paid by the Government as well! This free money is in the form of tax relief which is applied at 20% to all contributions. Higher and additional rate tax payers can then re-claim the 40% and 50% income tax paid via their tax return. The benefit of this tax relief is increased through compound interest; growth on growth received each year. For example, basic rate tax relief on a £50,000 contribution would be £10,000. This £10,000 alone would grow by £6,289 in ten years assuming a growth rate of 5% a year. So, £16,289 you would not have by ignoring pensions.

This blog was written by Andrew Neligan, a Chartered Financial Planner who helps legal professionals achieve their lifestyle goals.


Travel and Tourism Law

Brought to you by our friends at ASB Law

Although once considered a rare luxury, the opportunity to travel is now available to more people than ever before. The increase of low cost air fares and accessibility of airports, ferries and railways means that large numbers of people regularly travel within the UK and abroad. The travel industry provides a significant fiscal contribution to many economies and is the main industry in many countries. The size of the industry, in addition to the issue of health and safety when travelling, means that it is subject to a raft of laws and regulations.

There are a number of industry specific laws aimed at regulating the travel and tourism industry such as aviation laws and laws regarding travelling cross borders with minors. Due to the nature of the industry, it is necessary to take into account the differing laws applied in each jurisdiction. In an attempt to simplify the system, there are a number of European regulations and conventions which apply across the continent, and many international conventions which include countries outside of Europe. Although there has been some attempt at unification, there are still many differences between each jurisdiction and expert advice may be required should you face a legal issue whilst travelling.

In addition to the laws governing the industry, the travel and tourism sector must also apply and adhere to other laws and regulations that apply to all businesses. For example, contract law governs the sale of holidays as well as potential cancellations and claims that the contract has been breached. Whilst these can occur between a travel business and consumer, they can also occur during a transaction between two businesses. In such an instance, both parties would be subject to the law governing contractual relations with reference to any industry specific regulations which may apply. Similarly, elements of employment law, revenue law, insurance law, equality law, consumer law and fair trading all apply to businesses and consumers operating within the industry.

Many travel companies have an in-house legal team or rely on external legal advisers to ensure they are up to date with the relevant legislation and that they are operating legally. However, disputes can arise and businesses may find themselves faced with complaints about their conduct or service and threats of legal action.

When considering legal action against a business operating within the industry it is advisable to seek advice from a professional who has relevant experience within the industry. The additional industry specific regulations can add significant liabilities to businesses or provide certain exemptions. What may appear to be a seemingly straightforward business transaction could be more complicated if the businesses involved operate within the travel and tourism sector and thus require specific legal expertise. Whilst the law governing travel and tourism is increasingly complex, it is necessary to ensure that businesses operate legally, fairly and appropriately and that consumers can travel as freely and as safely as possible.  

This post comes from Travel and Tourism Law at ASB Law.

Book Recommendation: Slapper and Kelly’s The English Legal System

Slapper and Kelly’s The English Legal System explains and critically assesses how our law is made and applied. Annually updated, this authoritative textbook clearly describes the legal rules of England and Wales and their collective influence as a sociocultural institution. This latest edition of The English Legal System presents and analyses changes made to the legal system by the coalition government, and digests recent legislation and case law. The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, the Crime and Security Act 2010, the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, new European law, and the latest decisions of the Supreme Court are all incorporated into the text, and this edition also digests recent research on the work of juries and the criminal courts, and the 2011 changes to the regulation of, and Government contributions towards, legal services. Key learning features include: a clear and logical structure with short, manageable, well-structured individual chapters; useful chapter summaries which act as a good check point for students; sources for further reading and suggested websites at the end of each chapter to point students towards further learning pathways; an online skills network including how tos, practical examples, tips, advice and interactive examples of English law in action.  Relied upon by generations of students, Slapper and Kelly’s The English Legal System is a permanent fixture in this ever evolving subject.

Available from Amazon


Perceptions of the UK Banking Industry

Brought to you by our friends at Duncan Lawrie

A recent YouGov survey conducted on behalf of Duncan Lawrie Private Bank has revealed a groundswell of discontent amongst High Net Worth Individuals with a majority of respondents (70%) confirming that they have less faith in the UK banking industry than they had a year ago.

Duncan Lawrie hopes that its survey will once again highlight the appeal of an independent private bank that still prides itself on traditional values and service with long term client satisfaction taking priority over the sort of sales target culture that appears to have embedded itself in high street banking.


Book Recommendation: Porterhouse Blue by Tom Sharpe

Porterhouse College is world renowned for its gastronomic excellence, the arrogance of its Fellows, its academic mediocrity and the social cachet it confers on the athletic sons of county families. Sir Godber Evans, ex-Cabinet Minister and the new Master, is determined to change all this. Spurred on by his politically angular wife, Lady Mary, he challenges the established order and provokes the wrath of the Dean, the Senior Tutor, the Bursar and, most intransigent of all, Skullion the Head Porter - with hilarious and catastrophic results.

Available from Amazon


Book Recommendation: The First Rumpole Omnibus by John Mortimer

Who rose to enduring fame on Blood and Typewriters, told the pregnant Portia of the Chambers it would come out in the end, advised Guthrie Featherstone, Q.C. to adopt a more judicial attitude, returned in the tender gloaming of each evening via Pommeroy's and a glass of Chateau Fleet Street - to She Who Must Be Obeyed? The answer is Horace Rumpole whose legal triumphs, plundering sorties into the 'Oxford Book of English Verse' and less-than-salubrious hat are celebrated here in this first omnibus edition which includes Rumpole of the Bailey, The Trials of Rumpole and 'Rumpole's Return'.

Available from Amazon


Achieve the perfect balance in online payment processes

Brought to you by our friends at Osborne Clarke

As online commerce grows, so does the need for payment technology and process to keep pace with both supplier and consumer demands.

Increasing the efficiency of the end-to-end sales process is crucial and there are a number of areas for development. First, the payment reference and other information are likely to become more accurate and integrated into the whole process. Alongside that you have e-invoicing which facilitates in particular straight-through processing (STP). Both of these areas will require common standards and approaches and facilitation. The other area of development in relation to the sales process is for real-time transaction information being available from the suppliers.

Reduced risk
The foundation of e-commerce is security and trust and there are ongoing developments in this area in respect of authorisation and authentification. On example is MasterCard’s recent announcement regarding implementation of enhanced compliance requirements on its members, merchants and service providers with respect to its Site Data Protection Program (SDP Program). This is designed to identify vulnerabilities in security and safe storage of account data in accordance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Be aware that even the smallest merchants could be caught by significant security assessment requirements in the event of hack-or-attack.

Increased revenue
Increased revenue can come from ensuring that all likely means of payment are accepted such as (in the UK) Faster Payments and (for euro denominated transactions) the SEPA Credit Transfer and Direct Debit Schemes.

Greater convenience
The recent explosion in e-payment sites, such as e-Bay’s PayPal, Amazon’s Amazon Payments, and Google’s Google Checkout reflects the fact that they can add both convenience and trust to the transaction and increase the likelihood of repeat transactions.

The perfect balance
Best of all would be to combine all of these elements with: an internet bill; an e-mandate; and payment under either the SEPA Credit Transfer or Direct Debit Scheme. What a perfect balance it would be. No paper. End-to-end efficiency/integration. Quicker payment cycles. Certainty of timing and funds. Parties retain control. End of.

Osborne Clarke solicitors are leading specialists in payment law.


Book Recommendation: Food for Free by Richard Mabey

Illustrated throughout with stunning colour photographs this fully-revised edition of a Collins bestseller explains the best ways to make use of the foods we can find in the wild.
Food for Free by Richard Mabey was first published in 1972, since then it has been reprinted 11 times. An all-colour, revised version produced in 1989 has sold over 30,000 copies in the trade. A guide to over 200 types of food that can be gathered in the wild in Britain, Food for Free explores the history and folklore of the foods as well as explaining how we identify them and the best ways to cook and eat them.
The new edition will bring the subject right up to date. Organized by season rather than food type Food for Free will take us through the year. Richard Mabey’s fully-revised text will be accompanied by stunning photographs, new recipes and a wealth of practical information on collecting, cooking and preparing.
Beautifully illustrated, beautifully written and produced in a new, larger format Food for Free is designed to inspire us to take more notice of what is around us, how we can make use of it and how we can conserve it for future generations.

Available from Amazon