Hanover hangover is small beer
BRIEF CASE: You would have to say the Financial Markets Authority’s civil suit against the Hanover directors is something of a damp squid after a long three-year wait by out-of-pocket investors.
The anticipation of a criminal trial and the front-page-ranking of frozen Hotchin assets, as if he were the only director, has evaporated like morning dew. The small civil claim, being for a mere $35 million for which the directors may even be covered by insurance, will achieve next to nothing.
All eyes must now turn to Tim Rainey, the Auckland litigator representing something over 2500 investors, to see if he can turn up the recovery heat with his own action. But without the FMA resources to shoot home any liability, investors will doubtless not be holding their collective breath.
I’m deeply appreciative of Wellington barrister Ken Johnston’s setting me straight on the precursor firms to Minter Ellison Rudd Watts. Now – how was it again? Horricks Garland merged with Stone & Patterson? No, I don’t think that’s right.
Look, these precursor firms and their monikers’ deeply involved histories become extremely involved and just how Justice Dobson never became a partner with Colin Patterson is more intertwined than the genome.
Frankly, this whole issue is the fault of Sir David Gascoigne, who is evidently writing a history of Minter Ellison Rudd Watts and if such a reference work had been available none of this misinterpretation would ever have occurred. Blame him.
At least we don’t have the situation as exists with some US law firms such as the entertainment practice I visited in LA called Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca, Fischer, Gilbert-Lurie, Stiffelman, Cook, Johnson, Lande & Wolf.
At least they could have made an acronym out of it but everyone knew it was called Ziffren Brittenham.
The Dotcom mess
The saga of Mr Dotcom, back in the recording studio and the Dotcom mansion’s infinity pool, is slowly unfolding as a major embarrassment rather than a major bust of Mr Big’s alleged copyright-hacking empire.
Judge David Harvey, the go-to judge for matters of this nature and an acknowledged expert in internet law as author of the leading text, has injected some reasoned judgment into the matter. Regardless of Dotcom’s ultimate culpability, the handling of the matter has been nothing short of bizarre and embarrassing.
Suing Google – again
And talking of bizarre, readers may recall comments a couple of weeks ago about the Auckland psychiatrist who is seeking to have Google remove a reference to him carried in the Ripoffreport.com site.
I published an item online about it, “Suing Google – Is it like suing God?” and this week received a call from an Australian internet security expert living in the US named Michael Roberts.
He runs an online reputation management company called Rexxfield and used to advise the US military on online security matters until his life fell apart, then his business.
He has filed suit against Google finding what he believes is a loophole to their immunity – an Achilles’ heel that is based on a literal interpretation of “information” as it is used in US law regarding immunity.
Roberts claims to have proven Google has what he terms a “humiliation algorithm” that elevates demeaning or negative content in order to direct traffic to its advertising content. He claims that RipOffReports are part of the deal and has a long story to tell about his battle against both.
Roberts has set up a site, BadforPeople.com where he details his battle with the behemoths of Google, RipOffReports and Fox News, and is writing a “Bad for People” book.
As if that wasn’t enough, he’s also battling a custody case to remove himself and his children back to Australia after the conviction of his former wife, Tracey Richter, on a murder charge. She was trying to frame Roberts for the killing of a neighbour.
True. She was sentenced to life before Christmas. And according to Roberts, who sounds completely sane and intelligent, it’s not only all true but extremely exhausting.
His story is shortly to air in an ABC documentary. The Google battle, he tells me, is going to seriously dent Google’s “Don’t be evil” mantra.
Corporate lawyer awards
Corporate lawyers will be fizzing at the prospect of their awards in Queenstown on May 11. The main award has now been split in two with the public sector in-house lawyer of the year and the private sector equivalent.
In addition, there will be the young in-house lawyer of the year and the community contribution award. The scholarship packages available to the winners is $22,000 over the four major awards.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, in a wonderfully delivered talk on how the US has lost its way, spoke of the need to constantly redefine and reinvent our jobs. Everyone (apart from accountants) needed to become more creative and he referred to the US firm Nixon Peabody, which had created the first law firm “chief innovation officer,” who is “an architect in charge of advancing ideas.”
Particularly pertinent in the Friedman address was his exhortation for younger people to “think like an immigrant” in terms of how they perform, or change their jobs.