Briefcase: David Shearer’s UN paydays, Jerry Collins and more
Readers will recall my calling Labour leader David Shearer to the witness box a couple of weeks ago regarding his United Nations role and just what the UN are really up to. How prescient.
My first question, leading of course, would be to ask whether “peacekeepers” were more concerned about perks and pay than peace.
He would stammer, because he does that very well, and then suggest it was a question asked out of temerity and didn’t deserve a non-stammered answer but, in essence, he would say what wonderful work the UN are doing in so many “theatres”. Then his lawyer would object.
But putting aside how a bank account that, on some suggestions might well hold several hundred thousand dollars, could be overlooked simply begs another question: How can someone who can’t comply with the rules of pecuniary interests be expected to satisfactorily run an entire country? The Dominion-Post’s Vernon Small picked up the point about gilt-edged UN jobs.
My comments related to Helen Clark solving our unemployment problem by shifting all and sundry to the vast bureaucratic edifice that is the UN, noting that Mr Shearer’s Boy's Own back story tends to overlook the fact that it’s a job not just about “bravery and self sacrifice”, as Vernon Small referred, but also about silver linings and emoluments, to which I referred.
These are handsomely remunerated bureaucrats who are used to sitting at the pointy end of the plane. There are no cut-priced cocktails at this party. Even the UN describes its pay as attractive. But that’s only the beginning.
The fringes – rental subsidy, travel and shipping, hardship allowances, “hazard pay”, recuperation breaks, health insurance – provide enticements for all.
Mr Shearer may have felt he was keeping the peace in the old job, which the UN certainly does not do, but his private war may be more with Dame Margaret Bazley than with some self-immolating malcontent in a fly-swat town in Africa. Now that would be one to watch.
Family lawyers happier ... maybe ... slightly
A lawyer has written to me saying family lawyers are "crapping themselves" about changes that are being made in the Family Court Reform Bill.
Among the changes are the expectation for parties to pay their own mediation costs; the removal of lawyers and self-representation of parties with the delays and issues that will create; not to mention the exposure faced by more vulnerable parties, together with slashed legal aid costs.
Is there any good news in all of this? South Auckland family lawyer Jeremy Sutton points out some positive aspects to the changes, including the repealing of s60 of the Care of Child Act, which requires the courts to consider violence and safety issues.
Lawyers have also welcomed changes to cases involving repeat litigants, who make up a disproportionate number of cases.
Mr Sutton says some of these cases have dragged on for five or even 10 years. The bill attempts to place limitation on this. He describes the centralised fixture system run by Judge Ryan as also a "great success". "This has results in the times for hearing to be very much reduced and certainty for the clients."
Jerry Collins' night of the long knives
When I drafted contracts for rugby players moving to Japan we focused largely on jurisdictional, remuneration and related issues.
However, we all knew that the real problems were going to be more related to more exotic, if mundane, matters relating to unexplained pregnancies, which colour for this week and chlamydia rather than money, accommodation and clubs.
And combining sports agency work with legal representation, notwithstanding the overlap, can present almost as many challenges as dealing with Maori water rights, as barrister and Waitangi Tribunal member Tim Castle is finding out.
Jerry Collins’ current predicament over his carrying a long-handled knife through a department store is not so much unexpected as par for the sportsman’s course.
The mention of New Zealand as a key international arbitration centre has raised and lowered itself at different times. However, two recent developments, at least, give rise to the possibilities of New Zealand’s neutral status might lead to further consideration of the issue.
The major stoush between the much-monied Russians, Roman Abramovich and his nemesis Boris Berezovsky, has led to further calls to create London as the world centre for dispute resolution. It’s another export business that already generates an estimated ₤3.5 billion to the UK economy. (Read more here.)
British Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is leading the charge and the lawyers and banking are providing the money. Already the Saudis are lining up to populate a confidential arbitration centre in London and in Australia there are calls for the country to also press for greater work in the international disputes arena after a High Court ruling that dismissed a challenge to the International Arbitration Act and upheld an important arbitration ruling.
New Zealand’s capacity to provide high-quality arbitrators has been proven, particularly out of Bankside Chambers, a kind of Arbitrators Inc lead by Sir Ian Barker and David Williams QC. The scope for further such work in an independent, common law-based jurisdiction such New Zealand must present opportunities for further lucrative work and the development of a major law-based income generator.
Apart from the Saudis and others, even small jurisdictions such as Honduras are looking to the UK to resolve disputes using a robust legal system in order to provide comfort to investors. How many more countries offer similar opportunities?
Rich lawyer, poor Pope
The story about a north England lawyer who is likely to take $10 million home this year was an interesting one, to say the least, and almost beat out the Australian media-QC Geoffrey Robertson, fresh from his Assange duties and now suggesting former Pope Bennedict XVI should be indicted for covering up sex crimes against children for the Catholic Church.
Trust kill-joy Robertson to spoil a good Catholic party. However, former criminal lawyer Jeffrey Winn, who has built a massive practice in the car accident law area, suggests the need for lawyers to develop entrepreneurial skills, good margins, good IT systems, high service levels and low overheads is part of his recipe toward surviving and prospering in the tough years ahead. (Read more. )
Hawke's Bay criminal lawyer Nigel Hewat was doubtless wandering down Lawn Road and reeling from the effects of a severely sliced legal aid income, rather than from the motor vehicle encounter with Sensible Sentencing’s mouthpiece Garth McVicar.
The opportunity presented to Mr McVicar to complete his own victim impact report must have been like some karmic visitation via Mr Hewat’s antics.
Mr Hewat, who honed his legal skills at the knee of legendary Roy Stacey, has been licking legal aid wounds like so many criminal lawyers throughout the length of the country.
Mr McVicar suggested Mr Hewat should have pleaded guilty earlier. As Mr McVicar would know, criminal lawyers seldom enter early pleas.
John Bowie is publisher of LawFuel