The Scots Law Student

The SLS : Life and trials of learning law in Scotland

Month: August, 2010

Book review – Writing for Law (Dave Powell and Emma Teare)

I went for a browse through my local Waterstones this evening and spotted a new release in the law section – Writing for Law (Palgrave Study Skills) by Dave Powell and Emma Teare (ISBN: 978-0-230-23644-8). It has a section on dissertation technique so I naturally snapped it up like the terrified fourth year I now am. I took it home and read the first section on the bus.

Impressions so far

Long and the short of it: I think it’s a great book. I read it with my heart in my mouth looking at all the obvious but elusive things I had not quite been doing all these years. It’s a book that all law students should read, either to teach you something or to reassure you that you’re doing it right afterall.

It covers things including

  • how to cite,
  • what sources count as authoritative,
  • study and skill guides,
  • paper and electronic references,
  • plaigraism,
  • structure,
  • planning,
  • editing
  • research,
  • how to present,
  • how to moot,
  • how to study,
  • how to sit an exam,
  • examples of marking outcomes,
  • learning outcomes (including for your entire degree),
  • identifying dissertation topics,
  • writing dissertations and extended essays.

It’s all really handy stuff and it’s the sort of thing that you really need to know to be able to be really confident about what you’re handing in. It is written from an English perspective (the authors are Senior Lecturers in Law at Teeside University) but the basic skills are immediately transferrable – you have to answer the question no matter where you are.

On the other hand this is another reason to have done a degree before doing law.



I’m in the Blawggies!

I’m really thrilled to be included in the voting for the 2010 Blawggies awards. I’m the Legal Commentary group which is, I think, really extremely tough this year. It’s highly unlikely I’m going to win in that line up (my IP lecturer put IPKat on the reading list, Jack of Kent uses the cases he wins as blogging material and so on) but I’m very happy to be included there. Cheers to Michael at Law Actually for organising the competition.

From Law Actually:

‘Best Legal Commentary’

Charon QC* (NB: CharonQC has a policy on web prizes and has asked to be removed from the vote)
Head of Legal
Jack of Kent
Jonathan Mitchell QC
The IPKat
Law Actually
Legal Costs Blog (by GWS)
Nearly Legal
Pink Tape
Scots Law Student

I’d like to call on the collective forces of mankind to vote for the Scots Law Student, it’s a tough contest and your vote would be greatly appreciated.

H/T: Law Actually


This is not a ban of Liam Fox

In a by now traditional move for the controversial series our defence secretary reports that he is “disgusted and angry” about the upcoming, unreleased Medal of Honor game (that he couldn’t possibly have any personal experience of since it’s not out yet) because it is “un-British“. That seems fair enough to me, in Medal of Honor (note the spelling) you play as an American soldier and it’s made in the US. It’s not British. It’s not meant to be British.

He therefore wants it banned. That bit doesn’t seem fair enough to me.

I’ll admit the idea that our defence secretary thinks that things that aren’t British are bad, and proverbially so, is a little terrifying. That may bode poorly for our foreign and defence policies.

The particular thing that Liam Fox doesn’t like is that the multiplayer mode lets you play as the other side (EA point out that every game has an other side – cops and robbers is the example they use) and EA’s right about that. No matter how much of a racist you are you’ve got to concede that in chess someone has to play black. I don’t like the idea that, in Fox’s world, you’re not even allowed to imagine yourself from the perspective of the other side.

It’s this “imagine” word that is particularly significant in this issue because it’s easy to forget that we’re not actually talking about a war, we’re talking about a video game about a war.

This is not a pipe. This is not a pipe, it is a picture of a pipe.

I don’t like people dying so I’m not a big fan of war, though that’s not a particularly unusual or controversial position. I have a suspicion that the only people who genuinely like war are just fundamentally not going to be like me. I do quite like video games and that’s not a contradictory position because, firstly, not all video games are even about people dying and secondly people don’t die in video games. If people actually died in a video game we would call it real life.

The idea that it is somehow wrong or un-British to play a video game in which one team is called NATO and one team is called Taliban and you both pretend to be soldiers and you both pretend to shoot each for points is ludicrous enough but the particular idea that you should ban a video game because of the names of the teams is just insane.

I have friends in the Army and I don’t like the idea of them being in harms way. I really hate it, and that’s why I really, really want UK forces out of Afghanistan but there is no “our boys in harms way” in this game. It’s a game. If you don’t like the idea you shouldn’t play it but there’s nothing in the game that endangers soldiers or is disrespectful or even involves war. The picture above is an image of a painting by René Magritte called The Treachery of Images which points out that, yes, it’s a picture of a pipe but it’s not a real pipe. Video games show a increasingly detailed portrayal of war but it is not a real war.

At the end of the day Liam Fox has no power to ban this game and he know he has no power to do that. It isn’t even the biggest thing that Fox has on his plate today. This is just him exercising his position of responsibility as an MP and as defence secretary to get in the paper and complain about stuff. Fundamentally this is someone using the deaths of British soldiers to push his agenda. You might agree with the agenda he’s pushing or you might not but either way that’s utterly disgusting behaviour. I’m very confident that no British soldiers gave their lives in Afghanistan so that a politician could stay at home and complain about computer games.

This is not a ban of Liam Fox, this is a post saying that we should ban Liam Fox.


Turns out that police guard might not be needed after all.

There was a police guard posted outside of the home of the twins that were allegedly attacked by a fox. I commented at the time that this was utterly ridiculous and who possibly thought that was necessary or a good idea. It just proved to me that people were taking the whole extremely rare fox attack issue too seriously for its own good.

Foxes get a hard time. There isn’t a big movement out there that seems to actually like them and it’s a hard, short life for the average fox no matter where it lives. It got a whole lot harder for the urban fox a little earlier in the week when the Urban Fox Hunters posted a video of themselves pretty much lynching a fox on YouTube, Blogger and Facebook.

It was a grainy, horrible video on YouTube. The video was extremely brutal – it showed a fox eating dog food, laced with Xanex to stop it running away, and then clubbed to death by four masked men using cricket bats. It was so bad that it was later removed, from Facebook (home of the Raoul Moat is a Legend group) and YouTube (without Viacom being involved).

It was a very social media aware act of ultraviolent animal cruelty but isn’t everything on Facebook these days? The group, particularly a ringleader called “Lone Horseman” then defended their actions with comments like:

“I haven’t laughed so much since my brother fell off that roof,”

“So we cornered Mr Fox in a dark alley and we pummelled the s*** out of him. And boy do these vermin stink. It was f***ing awesome to get a kill – one down, several hundred to go!”

“This is NOT about inflicting pain or torture to an animal, but about ridding our neighbourhood of a pest.”

It was picked up by the Mail, the Mirror, the Guardian, the BBC, the Evening Standard, the Times, and was generally reported quite widely. The problem is that it was an elaborate hoax which was specifically supposed to show that the media would report anything with a fox in it no matter how ridiculous or untrue. Basically the moral of the story is that they indeed would. They made a video for the Guardian which makes good watching, particularly when you see just how scrappy the hoax really was – it turns out they were chasing a “fox” that was actually someone’s dog with a bushy tail taped a tail on it and the reason they used dog food was because a fox had managed to steal all the other bait they had with them.

The makers of both the hoax video and the making of the hoax video video did it to show the reality of fox hunting in light of the Government planning to give MPs a “free vote” – one where the whips don’t tell them what to vote – on the Hunting Act. I agree with their stance and the amount of horror that showing what killing a fox looks like generates shows the strength of opinion that exists on the other side of the issue. It seems clear that, no matter what you’ve been the paper for, we don’t want anything killed in that manner and no matter what class you are.

The film makers suggest that you should write to your MP to show your feelings on the possible repeal of the hunting act. I agree and I urge you to do this too.

Some good commentary (of course meaning it reflects what I think about the issue) is at the artoftheprank.