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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Are offshore structures for you?


Private Interest Foundations

The private foundations were born some years ago in Panama , in order to give the offshore users a new approach, a more civil and familiar approach.

They have the same Tax and Registry principles, but with a civil oriented system.

The foundations can sign and negotiate commercial contracts eventually and they are not subject to income tax when the income was produced outside Panamanian territory.

The Panama Private Foundation (hereinafter known as PIF) has its origins in the Law 25 of 1995, which in turn was inspired in the PGR or better known as the “Liechtenstein Persons and Company Act”, which contains one of the first references to the private non profit foundations. In Panama, this and the most recent innovations in the Anglo-Saxon Trust enabled the creation of the Private Foundation utilizing the best features and characteristics of both worlds.

A PIF is a legal entity that can be created by either a natural person or a corporation that later transfers part or all of his/her assets to the Private Foundation so they can be managed and protected in favour of the Beneficiaries.

Among the features of the Panamanian Private Foundations we find:

  • Quick registration 24-72 hours;
  • They provide a fiduciary structure for the orderly transfer and disposition of assets to beneficiaries upon the death of the Founder, keeping control of the assets during lifetime;
  • They may be established to have effects from the date of their constitution or after the death of the Founder; According to Law 25 of 1995, inheritance laws that apply in the domicile of the Founder or the Beneficiaries, shall not be effective against the Foundations assets nor may these laws affect the validity or performance of the Foundations objectives;
  • Foundations are established to carry the specifics goals set out in the Foundation Charter and may additionally undertake sporadic commercial activities, exercise rights pertaining to their holdings, own property, contract obligations and take part in administrative or judicial proceedings.
  • A Private Interest Foundation should be established with a patrimony destined to fulfill its objectives, which shall be no less than US$10,000.00.
  • Said patrimony may be increased by additional contributions of the Founder or third parties and does not have to paid in part or in full before the incorporation;
  • The assets of the Foundation become legally independent and do not form a part of the private estate of the Founder. Such assets are not sizeable and may not be subject to any precautory action or measure, unless such action or measure pertains to obligations incurred or damages arising from the fulfillment of the Foundations objectives.


Notwithstanding the creditors of the Founder or of a third party shall have the right to contest the contribution or transfer of assets to a foundation when such transfer constitutes an act in fraud of the creditors. The rights and actions of such creditors shall lapse at the expiration of three (3) years, counted from the date of the contribution or transfer of the assets to the foundation was done.

According to article 27 of Law 25 of 1995, Private Interest Foundations are exempt from payment of any taxes, contributions, duties, liens or assessments of any kind arising from the acts of constitution, amendment or extinction of the same, as well as acts of transfer or encumbrance of the Foundations assets and the income arising thereof, when related to:

  • Assets located abroad;
  • Money deposited by natural or juridical persons whose income does not derive from a Panamanian source is not taxable in Panama for any reason;
  • Shares or securities of any kind issued by corporations which income is not derived from a Panama source, or which are not taxable for any reason, even when such shares or securities are deposited in the Republic of Panama.
  • The transfer of unmovable property, titles, certificates of deposits, assets, funds, securities or shares carried out by reason of the fulfillment of the objectives of the foundation or the termination of the same, in favor of relatives within the first degree of consanguinity or the spouse of the Founder shall also be exempted from all Panama taxes.


Among the most important uses of the Panamanian Private Foundations we find:

  • Family and family office support
  • For Tax purposes
  • For the protection and management of assets
  • For educational purposes Testamentary purposes
  • For life annuity purposes
  • For charitable purposes
  • To receive and manage capital and titles
  • For the purpose of serving as guarantee or collateral
  • For the management of insurance.

We must comment that several or all uses mentioned above can be given to a particular PIF, there are no restrictions as to the objects or uses one PIF can be given. For example, one PIF can be created to protect assets, but also with a testamentary use or in any case, with all the above-mentioned uses. However, a PIF cannot engage in commercial or for profit activities as a day-to-day activity.

Panama

Panamanian offshore corporations are an easy vehicle to negotiate and close deals.
The simple and yet formal provisions of the Law, render the users to trust the system. The amendments necessary to close one deal are quickly done by registering them at the Public Registry Office, and since it is a government institution, the certificates and Apostilles are easy to obtain in order to sign a contract in a short period of time.

Directors of the companies do not necessarily have to be shareholders and vice versa. Panamanian companies are not bound to issue shares. Powers of Attorneys may or may not be registered in the Public Registry Office.

For over seventy five (75) years the Panamanian offshore corporations has been recognized worldwide as a suitable offshore vehicle and with the proper legal advice can be utilized in a diversity of structures to conduct international business, asset protection, and estate planning, among others.

Among the most important features of the Panamanian offshore corporations we can mention:

  • Quick registration in 24 to 48 hours.
  • The Panamanian offshore corporations can be registered notwithstanding the nationality of its directors or shareholders.
  • The income produced by a Panamanian offshore corporations outside the territory of the Republic of Panama is exempt of paying Income Tax in Panama.
  • The capital of the company does not have to be paid partially or fully at the moment of incorporation.
  • There is no obligation to file annual reports, financial statements or sworn income declarations, always that the company does not generate Panamanian sourced income.
  • Legal entities of any country can be appointed as directors, officer or shareholder.
  • There is no obligation to undertake annual meetings of the Board of Directors or Shareholders.
  • The directors and shareholders can meet in person, by Proxy, phone or by any other electronic means.
  • Three (3) directors are required, either physical persons or legal entities of any nationality.
  • The officers (usually a President, a Secretary and a Treasurer) not necessarily have to be directors and one person can occupy one or more or all offices.
  • The officers can be either physical persons or legal entities.
  • The shares can be issued in nominative or bearer form.
  • In any case, the name of the shareholder is not required to be registered at the Public Registry, so confidentiality is ensured.
  • The corporate books can be kept in any part of the world and can be managed by electronic files or program.
  • A Panamanian offshore corporations can do transactions and own assets in any part of the world, without having the obligation to maintain assets in the Republic of Panama.
  • The Panamanian offshore corporations can undertake any type of legal business activity in any part of the world.
  • The use of the Apostille is permitted.

Among the most important uses of the Panamanian offshore corporations we can find:

  • As a holding entity for shares, bonds, bank accounts, term deposits, investment projects or any other financial or commercial title.
  • Owner of shares in other companies, be them Panamanian or foreign.
  • Owner of property, such as apartments, lots, houses or any other asset, be them personal or real estate.
  • Manager or promoter of international commercial transactions.
  • International lease of aircraft, vehicles, machinery, vessels and others.
  • Instrument to receive and deliver loans in cash or commissions for products and services.
  • Marketing and promotion of products and services.
  • Other financial or commercial activities.


Belize

Belize 's modern and up-to-date offshore legislation provides maximum flexibility in global asset protection and tax and investment planning.

Particular features of the Belize international business companies are:

  • Registration is quite fast as you can have your company registered in one (1) hour.
  • Conducts its trading and business outside of Belize.
  • Tax exempt from, the payment of all forms of local taxation, the payment of stamp duties for transactions in respect of its shares and debt obligations or other securities.
  • Absence of exchange control.
  • Disclosure of the beneficial owner(s) is not required;
  • share register may be inspected only by a shareholder;
  • nominee shareholders and bearer shares are permitted;
  • assets are protected from confiscation or expropriation orders or similar actions by foreign governments.
  • Security and Confidentiality.
  • Only the Memorandum and Articles of Association are required for public records;
  • the registration and deregistration of Registers of Directors, Members, and Mortgages and Charges is optional.
  • No minimum capital is required.
  • No audit of accounts is required.
  • No filing of annual returns is required.
  • Only one shareholder and one director are required, who may be a legal entity.
  • No company secretary is required.
  • No annual general meeting is required, meetings may be held outside of Belize , and attendants may be present therein by telephone or other electronic means.
  • Shares may be issued with or without par value and in any currency.
  • Re-domiciliation into and out of Belize is permitted, registration in any foreign language is permitted.

Additional reporting compliance may be required from entities doing business with local clients inside said jurisdictions, as well as from shareholders and/or beneficiaries resident in some jurisdiction. Advice from a tax attorney and accountant in your country of citizenship and residence must be sought before using offshore entities.




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My status

A Taste Of Honey (1961) Directed by Tony Richardson


Nick:
Shelagh Delaney's A Taste Of Honey was a play I read on the school curriculum when I was entering my teenage years. In the 70's a lot of the themes of the play were still relevant, perhaps one could argue more so today. Teenage pregnancy, mixed race relationships, homosexuality, contraception, the creativity of the poor and the working classes  Because of my association of A Taste Of Honey with school, I always pulled back from the film. Interest in later life was fueled by Morrissey's love of Delaney (she adorned the cover of The Smiths compilation Louder Than Bombs).  Morrissey also drew inspiration from the film for one of my favorite Smiths songs, This Night Has Opened My Eyes.

So after all this association with A Taste Of Honey, how does it feel to return to the film now? The script is simple, yet effective. People might find the dialogue dated today. For me, it recalls a time and place. Richardson evokes the beauty of Salford with some amazing shots, yet still showing working class squalor and post-war decay.  Rita Tushingham (a dead ringer for Alex Turner) and Murray Melvin are excellent. Dora Bryan (famous as a variety performer in my youth), steals the film as the uncaring 'tart with a heart' mother.

So, this was/is a breakthrough picture. I enjoyed A Taste Of Honey so much this time. Geoffrey (Melvin), the gay textile student who befriends Jo (Tushingham), is one of my favorite screen turns. Morrissey was right all along. Sweet as.

Astrid:
It is important to wonder why a movie or a book or a poem or a song has the title that it carries. They matter. I am therefore embarrassed to admit that even after two days of thinking, I have no idea why this film was named A Taste of Honey. I love the title but it seems to be a description of everything that the film is not.

There is no sweetness at all. There is no softness and there is not really much hope in everything turning out well either. This is the most elegant and tragically beautiful way of telling the audience that life is in fact unfair and unromantic. Life is random and ugly with some haphazard beauty and pleasure here and there. I'm not sure if I want to believe this myself, but that is the poetry of A Taste of Honey.

There used to be a masterful way of seeing and capturing the mundane, poor surroundings of cities and their people in the English kitchen sink drama. The industrial docks, the yet not built lots, shabby estates and the rain, all look more beautiful and meaningful than anything captured today with brilliant focus lenses, lights and precision. I'm not sure if we have just lost the eye to see the present as aesthetically meaningful or if the good photographers have simply died.

I have returned to drinking my evening cup of tea with honey. I figured in case life really is mostly tragic, I have to add the honey myself.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I made the same mistake ...

as Cidell.   All together now:  AAAAAARGH!

I made Kwik Sew 1680 (now oop).  

I didn't forget to check the stretch of the fabric against the little "stretch to here" diagram on the pattern envelope.  It passed in both directions.

I read Cidell's post and thought ... hmmm better check this so tried it on without elastic.  Seemed OK.

In the end (oooooh bad pun!!), it was too short.










My fix (no I don't think I'll be modelling it here).  Let's just call it a design feature.

This fabric is a swimsuit polyester made for Speedo but I won't wear this in the pool.  (The Sewing Lawyer feels it's her obligation to keep her personal trainer awed by her vast wardrobe of exercise togs.)  Inside is a shelf-bra made from the same super stretchy stuff (acquired in Montreal on PR weekend) that was used to line several sports bras, one of which can be seen here.

The fabric came from the Fabric Flea Market (you can find anything there, it seems).  Here's a tour through my FFM acquisitions.

 First, proof that this fabric really is Speedo, to the left.  $5 per metre.

Right, some regular nylon/lycra.  Same price (not as nice though).

 To the left is a soft shell fabric (I think probably Polartec).  It's a deeper colour than shown (at least on my monitor).  I have enough for a jacket.  Hello Jalie 2795!

This is a prize!  It's silk from Thailand, 3.5 metres for all of $25.  I thought it was an allover print (as below) but when I opened it up, turns out that half of it is a coordinating border print.  Need I add that it's entirely hand-painted?  Clearly it's intended for a specific type of use but I'm not sure exactly what.  Any ideas?


To the right is a lovely knit print.  I did a burn test which showed it is 100% natural, and washed/dried it in the machines without any change at all. It is definitely not rayon.  It seems too fine to be cotton.  I dunno.  It's pretty.  I seem to remember paying $15 for the piece (3m).
This one to the left isn't fairly represented because it's a really lovely deep purple rather than grey, in real life.  100% wool, lightweight and soft, $20 for the piece (another 3m).  A dress?
I could also join the white shirt sewing brigade with these two.  Pure cotton to the left (voile with more opaque woven-in floral pattern); lustrous cotton/silk to the right, also with woven-in pattern.  $30 for the 2 pieces.


Gotta get sewing....

Be still my beating heart

I regularly look at The Sartorialist.  Most of the time, meh.  But today...
Pablo Ramirez backstage
Oh my.

Which made me consult Mr. Google, and I found this...


Pablo Ramirez

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It ain't over till it's over: Naomi Campbell

This article appears in the New Law Journal here.

Part of the role of a supermodel, one imagines, is the ability to generate headlines, and indeed as the cliché goes there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Naomi Campbell, however, one continues to imagine, might disagree on that last point, on the evidence of the past few years anyway. This year she has found herself in the law courts in the Hague, giving evidence in the trial of the alleged mass murderer Charles Taylor. She has, of course, already found her place in English legal history, through her famous privacy action against the Daily Mirror.

The Mirror was headed at the time by a young editor by the name of Piers Morgan, fully cognisant of the English tradition of press freedom and freedom of speech, and not shy about asserting it. Nor, one speculates, would Mr Morgan have been reluctant to weigh the increased revenue from the anticipated extra circulation against the likely cost of litigation.

It was Campbell’s action, more than any other, which established the existence of an actionable right to privacy (expressed in the House of Lords as a right of action in respect of “misuse of private information” —information in respect of which a person has a “reasonable expectation of privacy”). It remains the leading authority on the cause of action and the principle that the right to a private life under Art 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the right to freedom of expression under Art 10 are of equal weight, needing to be balanced according to the facts of each case.

Campbell the pioneer

Among the beneficiaries of her pioneering cause of action has been a farrago of footballers, entertainers and other “celebrities”. Thus far the most successful in terms of damages awarded has been Max Mosley, famous for his role in international motor racing and indeed for his parentage, both of which added a fair degree of spice to his activities which were the subject of a tabloid sting.

The balancing of the right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression forms one of the key debates in political, moral and legal philosophy. Part of that debate in the English context is the more established cause of action of libel, not without its share of recent controversy. The presence of Lord Neuberger as Master of the Rolls has already signalled a move towards freedom of expression and less in the way of privacy and libel, as shown for example in the withering condemnation by the Court of Appeal of Eady J’s judgment in British Chiropractic Association v Singh [2010] All ER (D) 08 (Apr). Eady J has also recently stepped down as the head libel judge, as previously reported in these pages.

Max Mosley: a case in point

Often one gets the impression that the excessively complex libel and privacy laws together with the usually salacious facts result in the court (and indeed observers of the court) not seeing the wood for the trees. Max Mosley is a case in point. What public interest was there in his antics with prostitutes? No doubt the antics did interest a segment of the public, but that’s not the same thing. The point is that, although it was outside his home and outwith his family, it was nonetheless a private sexual encounter. No-one else would agree to cameras in their bedroom without their consent and neither Mosley’s occupation nor the accident of his birth should make any difference. Campbell’s argument was on similar lines: she was receiving treatment akin to medical treatment, and ordinarily both the fact of one’s medical treatment and the content of that treatment itself would be considered private. Celebrities, however, always face a problem if the information is already in the public domain: no court is going to expend resources preventing publication of something already well known.

There were other important rulings in the Campbell litigation. The Court of Appeal considered also s 32 of the Data Protection Act 1998. It was held by the House of Lords in a subsequent hearing that Campbell’s success fee should be enforced notwithstanding the severity of the costs for the newspaper (see Heather Rogers QC “From Catwalk to Courtroom: Public Figure, Private Life” in Cases that Changed Our Lives, LexisNexis 2010). As to the parties involved, it would be fair to say that things have moved on. Photographed together on the red carpet for a charity event in February 2010, she and Morgan at least have put on the pretence of reconciliation.

It’s not over yet

And yet there remains a bizarre coda to the saga. It is nearly 10 years since the offending article was published, and the proceedings began. We have had full consideration by the domestic courts of the issues arising pursuant to Arts 8 and 10 of the Convention. Strikingly, however, the legal battle isn’t yet over. The Mirror’s appeal to the European Court of Human Rights remains outstanding. Judgment might appear before the end of this year. Whenever it does, one hopes therefore that the Strasbourg court might also find the time to say something about the right to a fair trial within a reasonable time under Art 6(1).

Scarface (1983) Directed by Brian De Palma

Astrid:
To be honest, I don't really have a clear idea of what has gone on with Cuba and the USA, but even though Scarface pretends to be political for its first five minutes don't be fooled. Hollywood doesn't care either, Cuba is just the backdrop for their favorite subject: cocaine.

Throughout this excruciatingly long rerun of Al Pacino's version number#100 of Richard III, I cannot shake my personal annoyance at the idealization of cocaine by the film and by people in general. I have the sense that the crew making this film were so high all the time that there is a glittering white dust of cold distance between me and the story. I'm sorry friends, cocaine trade is evil.

Scarface is essentially a movie about idiots in varying degrees. Usually we can learn something from watching these cruel, maniac psychokillers but in De Palma's direction there is no soft underbelly to the shining shield. There is just emptiness. In some Foucauldian sense this might be a genius revelation in the 1980's movie making, but I refuse to develop that thought.

The ending of the movie is an insult. Was I really not watching Rambo?
One good thing though: Steven Bauer as Manny. He epitomized the film: hunky but vacuous.

Nick:

I was born with a birthmark above my lip.  When I was a child this caused some ridicule at school (kids can be so cruel).  But as I've got older, the birthmark has come to distinguish me from anyone else. I think people recognize me instantly. It's a sign of my difference. I've grown to respect my birthmark.  As I've got older, the birthmark has got bigger. I should have it removed. But will I lose my sense of identity?

Scarface, otherwise known as Tony Montana,  is played by Al Pacino. His scar only gets referred to a couple of times in the whole movie, but it is the sign by which others recognize him. It's his individual stamp. Scarface is Brian De Palma's over the top look at the 1980 Miami drug scene. De Palma's film follows Montana's rise and fall from Cuban immigrant street thug to cocaine snorting drug lord. There is no subtlety here. The script by Oliver Stone is crude and De Palma's direction shows little inventiveness. Set design, costume and Miami itself give the film what is now an iconic look. Giorgio Moroder supplies the cheesy disco score.

But Scarface is ultimately a winner because of Pacino. Yes, this is Pacino in cliched shouty mode. But his Montana is a monster filled with great abusive one liners, intentionally or not, Scarface is very funny. The bathroom scene and the  restaurant scene show Pacino deconstruct his earlier Michael Corleone gangster character from The Godfather with great humor. The ending, showing a coked-up Montana taking a hail of bullets has become iconic.  I think Astrid really hated this picture. I enjoyed this film lots, it's heaps of fun. It's the bling reference book. Just don't call me Scarface!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Graduate (1967) Directed by Mike Nichols

Nick:
One's standing or stature is a strange thing. Personally, I really don't care about such distinctions. I rarely judge people on where they fit into the scheme of any given situation. Yet people's behavior is effected by success or a fall from grace, it's usually a signal to disengage. I have experienced this on a few occasions. It can leave you bruised and confused.

This dilemma faces Ben Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) in The Graduate. He starts out as a very popular and successful student who's future seems bright. Loved by family and family friends, the expectations for Ben's future are high. Ben can't take the laurels, the pressure throwing him into anxiety. During the course of The Graduate Ben loses his stature and the respect of those closest to him. Ben goes from winner to loser to what exactly?

The standing of The Graduate as movie gold over the years is beyond question. The Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack, the innovative editing, the picture of wealthy middle class suburban youth rebelling against their parents all introduced something new to the cinema. Ann Bancroft as Mrs Robinson, the family friend who Ben starts an affair with is excellent here.  But I've watched this 'perfect' picture many times and it still end's up feeling hollow. Implausible character and plot twists lessen the impact. Bored and cynical housewife Mrs Robinson turns into a monster. Elaine (Katherine Ross), Mrs Robinson's daughter, forgives Ben his extra marital affairs too easily. Ben falls in love with Elaine after two meetings.

The Graduate is entertaining, its role as iconic cinema beyond doubt. Its influence can be seen in the cinema of Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach and many others. But this film  has holes as big as Swiss cheese. Flawed.

Astrid:
The Graduate is undeniably good looking and stylistic cinema. The choice of making Simon & Garfunkel music so central to the atmosphere also serves to create a high-class continuity throughout the story. I feel like I'm watching an old 'how to' -guide for years to come.

This time around I was surprised by what actually creates the storyline for The Graduate. It is a psychological drama with the biggest shifts and changes happening inside the characters' minds (off-screen). The portrayal of emotions, the development of infatuation or hatred, or the internal conflict of the main character to begin with are all understated. This choice of distance runs through the film from style to the distanced acting. A numbness has set in. In my opinion the film suffers from a psychological condition.

Dissociation is the word I am looking for. The Graduate is dissociating on many levels: Dustin Hoffman's Ben is often found in states of blank staring, in various degrees of disconnectedness to his surroundings and people close to him. His response to his emotional impulses seems more compulsive than anything else.

I also claim that the whole story of the film dissociates because it chooses to tackle purely emotional content but then it remains so distanced from the causes and effects that everyone and everything seems to be covered by a bell jar.

In the end my biggest complaint is that I do not know why Ben fell for the daughter of the Robinsons and I have no explanation as to why she cared for him. The ending scene with the run-away bride is forever imprinted in my dreams though; when sleeping, I sometimes rerun it to feel the exhilarating sense of freedom on the back of the bus.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The shrinking of Fleet Street

A piece written for Lexisweb.

The Fleet Street hack is a long tradition, which may properly be called noble despite its share of ignoble practitioners and conventions. For any number of years journalists have been filling press benches at the courts, column inches in the dailies and glasses in the pubs, as they chronicle the drama, misery and human frailties that every piece of litigation evokes in one form or another.

Unfortunately it seems that that tradition is under threat, according to David Banks in last Tuesday’s Guardian. Mr Banks warns that with fewer local courts to sustain local journalists and, more worryingly, the preference of modern editors for “churnalism” – by which I imagine Mr Banks is referring to the bland non-news produced by the many blood relatives of Private Eye’s Phil Space – the days of reporters sitting patiently through the many boring days and boring cases to find the gems of public interest are fast diminishing.

There are many grounds for concern about this trend. One recalls Lord Hewart’s famous dictum that “it is not merely of some importance but is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done”. This is the cornerstone of English justice. It is reflected in the rules regarding open courts, the few exceptions to which are always the subject of robust debate. It is the means by which judges – unelected law makers who wield great power – are kept in democratic check. Indeed, it has long been observed that judges are the only public servants who make every single decision in public.

Yet only the tiniest proportion of the general public has the time and the inclination to sit in court observing cases. Almost all who do are only there because they have an interest in the outcome. The rest rely, naturally enough, on the media to inform them of what happens in the courts. It follows that the role of the journalist is one of the highest public importance. Fewer journalists means fewer reports which means a weakening of that vital role.

It is true that not all of what journalists publish about court proceedings concerns important legal developments; they of course want the drama, the gossip and the sleaze. But that cannot detract from the importance of legal journalists. For a start, it is not necessarily a bad thing that anyone who attends court has to accept that they are going to be the object of public scrutiny, whether in respect of trivial matters or otherwise: the market will ultimately decide what the public wants and therefore what the journalists choose to publish. Secondly, and more importantly, the mere presence of a journalist in court ensures a form of watchdog for anything untoward that might happen during the proceedings. Judges who fall asleep, counsel who lose their temper, jurors who behave improperly or any other examples of human failings will quickly supplant the worthless gossip in the journalists’ attention, and be brought to book in the court of public opinion accordingly.

Some countries tightly control the press when it comes to court procedures (usually so they may also control the outcome of the procedures). Others may not have any legal impediments but, due to lack of resources and an equivalent press tradition, have proportionately fewer journalists than this country. None may be envied in this respect. We should be careful in Britain before knocking the fourth estate, however irresponsible it might be on occasion.

I have long been of the opinion that all proceedings in open court should be recorded on video and accessible via the internet, as a means of ensuring open justice. This would partially alleviate the problems caused by diminishing press interest, but that is an argument for another day.

There is a final point, and it is one on which I have to declare a professional interest. The role of reporting law is not that of those variously described as journalists, hacks or court reporters, but of proper law reporters, a different beast altogether. These are lawyers (in the case of the All England Reporter, all qualified barristers and solicitors) employed by legal service providers, who also attend court and report proceedings. In contrast to journalists, however, law reporters are only interested in reporting law and procedure, for online and hard copy law reports rather than newspapers, journals or magazines. They, therefore, are the source of public information about how the law develops. Their role does not overlap or detract from that of the journalists. Their readers are all lawyers or similar professionals, but that is unsurprising and unobjectionable. Law is, after all, a learned profession, as with medicine or any other, and it is only professionals who are in a position properly to understand most developments in precedent – which is not to say that no legal rulings are ever appropriately reported and discussed by the press and public, just that the majority of the output of the courts of record will inevitably only be read by lawyers.

I am pleased to be able to report that law reporters in the form of the All England Reporter are in no danger of diminishing. I am less pleased to have to reiterate that this does not detract from concerns about the declining number of court reporters.

Monday, October 25, 2010

If there's a sewing gene, I got it from her

Photo explanation (to respond to some confusion in the comments):  these 6 young women are my grandmother (second from left) and 5 of her sisters.  The picture dates from sometime in the 1920s.  The oldest sister is on the far right (born 1888) and the youngest on the far left (born 1910).

My mother's mother (second from left) and her sisters sewed.  It was a practical necessity but my grandmother made much more of it.  She made many of her own and her 5 children's clothes.  For my mother and aunt, she made play clothes, school clothes, suits and beautiful prom dresses.

To the right, she's captured in a happy moment with my grandfather in the year before they married.  She was 24, wearing a coat of (perhaps) her own design with fur cuffed sleeves and a matching fur muff.  I would kill for those shoes!

To the left is a picture of my mother (taken when she was in her teens), wearing a gorgeous strapless dress that my grandmother made for her.

I never saw that one in real life, but clearly remember the fairy-princess white strapless ballerina-length prom dress that my mom would sometimes let me try on.  It had a  heavy satin "crumb-catcher" bodice with basque waist, a boned under-bodice with crumpled tulle scattered with rhinestones and seed pearls at the upper centre, and multiple layers of frothy tulle skirt.

It must be a gene that I inherited, because we never lived near my grandparents so she couldn't teach me to sew.

But my non-sewing mother did what she could (thanks Mom!) to encourage me and nurture what I seem to have inherited.

From my grandmother, aside from the sewing gene, I have souvenirs.

Her well used featherweight which replaced the treadle that may have been just like mine.

A length of celadon green silk brocade.

A gorgeous beaded sweater.  Taking it out of its annual summer storage yesterday made me think about my elegant and talented grandmother.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stealing From Inside the Museum - Egyptian Artifacts Theft in Long Island Proves the Point

Loss prevention at a museum starts by examining internal practices. When pieces are missing from a museum, the first place to look for a suspect is inside. Fortunately, a museum's risk can be reduced by performing thorough background checks on prospective employees and by creating moderate institutional oversight practices.

While the vast majority of museum employees are honest and trustworthy, there are many unfortunate instances where missing objects turn up in the hands of museum workers. Last week the New York Post reported that a federal court sentenced the director of the Long Island University Hillwood Museum to a year and a day in prison plus a $5000 fine for stealing Egyptian artifacts from his own museum. Barry Stern admitted to exacting revenge on his employer when his contract as museum director was not renewed. He worked 22 years for the university.

The Post describes how Stern stole the artifacts from the museum, brought them to Christie's for auction, and claimed they came from the Barry Stern collection. Records of the objects' existence at the Hillwood Museum were wiped out. The pieces earned Stern $51,500.

(As a side note, one wonders how the auction house failed to conduct enough due diligence regarding the provenance of the objects, particularly where the pieces presumably had accession numbers associated with the objects.)

The International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection helps cultural institutions minimize the risk of theft. Any of our colleagues can assist museums with internal loss prevention. www.ifcpp.org


Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/li_museum_director_sentenced_for_m8ewK4q1OIOWlINeCC4BRN#ixzz13BvQpl1L

Friday, October 22, 2010

My label

There have been a few comments about my "The Sewing Lawyer" labels.  They're pretty nice, aren't they?  The size is 1" x 2" and they are woven, not printed.

They were a Christmas present last year from my husband, who also did the design.  As you can see from this well-travelled box, they originate in Hong Kong.  They were ordered from WorldwideLabel on Etsy.  

They also have a blog where you can see the huge variety of labels this company makes daily.  Mine shipped on December 28, 2009.  I can't remember when they arrived but it was all pretty efficient.

Hoping to have something else to sew one of them into soonish...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

If You Want Your Art Back, Be Mindful of the Statute of Limitations

The First Circuit Court of Appeals decided the case of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston v. Seger-Thomschitz on October 14, 2010. Claudia Seger-Thomschitz, the heir of art collector Oskar Reichel, contacted the Museum of Fine Arts to reclaim Two Nudes by Oskar Kokoschka. Seger-Thomschitz argued that the painting left the hands Reichel because of Nazi coercion.

The Museum of Fine Arts spent 18 months researching the issue and concluded that Reichel sold the painting voluntarily. The Boston Globe published criticisms of this view in a May 2008 article. Nevertheless, the MFA sought an order from federal district court declaring that the museum legitimately owned the painting. The lower court ruled that the MFA rightfully owned the painting, and the court of appeals has now affirmed this decision.

The basis of the court of appeal's opinion is threefold. First, the district court's grant of a favorable judgment for the museum was proper on statute of limitations grounds because Seger-Thomschitz did not make a demand on the MFA within the three years statute of limitations under Massachusetts law. Second, the appeals court rejected Seger-Thomschitz's weak claim that the statute of limitations should bend in the wake of the non-profit section of the federal Internal Revenue Code [501(c)(3)]. Third, the court rejected her argument that the Massachusetts statute of limitations conflicted with America's foreign policy as expressed through the Holocaust Victims Redress Act of 1998, the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, the Vilnius Forum Declaration, and the Terezín Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets and Related Issues. These proclamations are aspirational and not law, the court essentially declared.

The message in this case is clear: Where a party believes that art is improperly in the hands of another, the claimant must be conscious of the statute of limitations clock and perform the necessary due diligence to start a cause of action.

Two Nudes can be seen at http://www.mfa.org/collections/search_art.asp?recview=true&id=34173&coll_keywords=&coll_accession=&coll_name=two+nudes&coll_artist=Kokoschka&coll_place=&coll_medium=&coll_culture=&coll_classification=&coll_credit=&coll_provenance=&coll_location=&coll_has_images=&coll_on_view=&coll_sort=2&coll_sort_order=0&coll_view=0&coll_package=0&coll_start=1

"Holocaust Historians Blast MFA Stance in Legal Dispute," The Boston Globe, May 28, 2008 at http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/articles/2008/05/28/holocaust_historians_blast_mfa_stance_in_legal_dispute/

Monday, October 18, 2010

A finished object

In the aftermath of the Fabric Flea Market, I did muster enough energy to finish a sheath dress which had been in the planning for several years, and in the execution for several weeks.

I had purchased the fabric for this dress a couple of years ago on a flying trip to the Wool House when I was wearing  this jacket:



(I pause here to note that I hate Windows Live Writer.  When I first used it, it was brilliant.  Then I got a notice to update it.  Now I hate it.  I can no longer figure out how to format text around the photos – the previous version worked perfectly.  I think I’m going back to editing using Blogger.)

Back to the regularly scheduled blog.

As I was saying, I was wearing that jacket, which I seem to have made in November, 2007.  I know that because that's when I reviewed it on PatternReview (here).  I was having trouble finding pieces to coordinate with it – the fabric has some dark blue, some light blue, some creamy beige, but putting any of these colours next to it looked strangely wrong.  I dashed into the Wool House and asked for advice.  The man in the store led me straight back to the Zegna shelves and pulled out a bolt of the fabric I bought for my new finished object; this dress:


This fabric is thin, smooth, and I think it’s a blend of wool and mohair.  It has black and a grey-ey blue-y green-y threads and is an impossible-to-describe colour which somehow goes perfectly with that jacket.

This dress is made from a pattern I developed using PatternMaster Boutique or PMB.  I wrote all about it in a pattern review here.  I was thrilled to have a sheath dress that fit and that I thought looked pretty good.  I've never found a commercial pattern that did these two fairly simple things so this one is a keeper.

As soon as I bought the strangely-coloured fabric I knew it was going to be this dress.  Well, it had to be, because it was damnably expensive fabric and I only bought a small amount (I think 1.2 metres).  You see, another other great thing about this pattern is that it's a true fabric miser.

In this picture, the dress looks ripply and puckered.  I swear it does not look like that in real life.  Here's another picture, a sort of side view.  The pattern has lots of shaping seams - princess seams front and back and side seams and long shaping darts besides.











In the next pictures you can see a bit of the fabric up closer, if you click to open them.

They were taken in natural light so are somewhat truer to the actual strange colour which overall looks more green than blue.

Notice my not-perfect hand understitching at the neck edge.

To the right is the shoulder seam with princess seams meeting nicely.



The CB sports a simple slit opening for walking.  Notice the mitred corners.  The lining (Bemberg) is hand felled to the facing.  The dress is underlined with silk organza.  I decided not to serge the raw edges at seam allowances and hem to avoid show-through in the pressing, but found some black lace at the Fabric Flea Market which I used to finish the hem edge.  



And finally, it looks good with a jacket (or two).


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Just tired…

That’s because the Fabric Flea Market was yesterday.  I hope everyone had a great time… the sales were good!

Here are a few scenes from before we opened the doors to let in the hundreds of people waiting outside.

DSCN3267DSCN3268DSCN3269

Naturally, I augmented my own stash.  Oops. 

Please excuse me now… I’ve got to get sewing!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Of courts and quangos

For Halsbury's Law Exchange

At the end of September I blogged about the extraordinary inclusion of the Supreme Court in a list of “quangos” whose future was being considered as part of a general cost-cutting exercise by Central Government.

The list was a leaked document obtained by the BBC and reported widely on its website and by other media. Now the final list has been made public here, and there is no mention of the court at all.

It is therefore a relief to be able to report that the highest court in the land is not considered of a piece with the Government Hospitality Advisory Committee on the Purchase of Wines and other such entities.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Long Goodbye (1973) Directed by Robert Altman

Elliott Gould
Astrid:
I don't really like the poster for this movie. It doesn't advertise the snotty grimy sophistication of 1970s LA. It cheapens the lush contradictions.

We were only as far in as the titles of The Long Goodbye when I needed to ask Nick:
–Is this the kind of man that you somewhat relate to? Elliott Gould, (or Jean-Paul Belmondo); the suspicious detective or an incompetent petty criminal always in a suit. Always in the same suit.
I think the answer was a Yes. Obviously, that is why we have spent the last couple of years getting more and more obsessive about  the 1970s Hollywood. Together, I must admit.

Watching The Long Goodbye for the second time (the first time I did not make much of it) I focused on the portrayal of Philip Marlowe. I attempted to see him through the eyes of my boyfriend.

First of all, this is a legendary private eye known in literature and cinema and epitomized by Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep (see also the main picture in this blog). I say this, because I claim him to be a silent constructing vision in my boyfriend's imagery of the ideal male. (only speculation of course)

In The Long Goodbye, Marlowe has updated himself for the decade. He is still chain-smoking, drinking, driving and mumbling and wearing his suit, but he carries himself with a certain hipness. He has a rock'n'roll edge. Yet, Gould's Marlowe is not overtly sexual, passionate or crazy. He is slow, endlessly sarcastic, superficial and right-on (permanently stoned?).

I'm not sure I cracked the code of my boyfriend's masculine identity right here, but I sure prefer these guys to Lemmy.

Nick:

Philip Marlowe: "It's okay with me".
Cats, of the furry kind or cool cats, Elliot Gould's chain-smoking take on Raymond Chandler's  Philip Marlowe is one of cinema's wisecracking top draws. As I watch this film for the umpteenth time, Astrid asks me if I relate to Gould's Marlowe. I'd like to say now: I wish I was as rubber-faced, as able to let the cigarette dangle so tantalizingly from my lips, so smart at solving cases and could drive as cool a car.

As an ideal, we may dream of being a Marlowe, or a Gould. The reality is far more mundane. That's why even this kind of dry cinema thrills. It's an escape. But before drugs and booze took their toll, there was never anyone as droll or cool as Gould in American cinema. He could have been the US version of J-P Belmondo, or maybe he was.

So, let's clear this up. The Long Goodbye is one of my favorite films ever. I also love Raymond Chandler's source novels. Of course, Altman's take on Marlowe is infused with his usual dry take on LA laziness, everyone conceivably in this picture is stoned or drunk. But it's also a different kind of Altman picture, not so focused on the group, this is more individualistic fare. Vilmos Zsigmond's photography is stand out and enough reason to fall in love.

As ever with Chandler and Marlowe, it's not so much about the case he's trying to solve but about Marlowe himself, the character and what we learn from him. This Marlowe has the same principles as say a Humphrey Bogart variety, but the world he inhabits is the 70's and not the 40's, so attitudes have changed. It's all roundabout routes, taking the long road round to solving, rarely being direct, observations are essential. So yes, The Long Goodbye, It's OK with me. This film represents a certain aesthetic that in my mind is key.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Assisted suicide again

A short note for HLE's Law in the Headlines. Lynne and I are due to be published in Criminal Law and Justice Weekly on the subject soon



This week the Independent Newspaper reported a further development in the ongoing debate about assisted suicide. It stated:

Doctors and nurses who support assisted suicide for the terminally ill will launch a campaign tomorrow to change the law on the right to die.

Healthcare Professionals for Change (HPC), a group of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, aims to challenge the views of bodies such as the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) which oppose such a move.

It is the first professional body to be set up with the explicit aim of changing the 1961 Suicide Act.

Dr Ann McPherson, who is dying of pancreatic cancer, said many doctors believed that patients "should not have to suffer against their wishes at the end of life".

The group's founder went on: "By taking a hostile approach to a change in the law on assisted dying, medical bodies such as the BMA and the Royal College of Physicians are failing to adequately reflect the views of all their members.

"Alongside access to good-quality end-of-life care, we believe that terminally-ill, mentally-competent patients should be able to choose an assisted death, subject to safeguards."

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying which backs the group, said: "It's a real move forward.

The issue of assisted suicide is the subject of one of Halsbury’s Law Exchange’s current projects. It has been noted several times as Law in the Headlines (see here for example), and the present instance is unlikely to be the last. Dr McPherson states that medical bodies are “failing to adequately (sic) reflect the views of all their members”, and yet given that there will be diametrically opposing views amongst those members, that is not a criticism that can ever be answered.

The existing state of the law is reviewed by Lynne Townley in the LexisNexis publication Cases that Changed Our Lives (2010), and will be considered further in a forthcoming HLE white paper. The latter will not be short of material.