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Letterman’s Pants Apology – Commerce Commission Apology – Lawyers Golf – And More

Briefcase Blog – John Bowie – LawFuel.co.nz – Legal Jobs, Legal News
Listen, don’t mess with John Key. See what happened to Letterman? His writers give our Johnny some crap questions and Letterman, who has survived longer on US television than “Flipper”, winds up in deep schtuck. Letterman’s apology just proves the point that you can say anything on the show – like you strangle Siamese cats for a hobby or you had a champagne party while the Twin Towers collapsed – and the studio audience, largely comprised of inmates from various New York area psychiatric homes, collapse themselves in hoots and hysterical clapping. As president of The Worldwide Pants Company, Letterman confessed to dropping his own for “favoured” employees and thus made himself the butt of other late-night comedians. The confession drew Force-9 applause despite its oddness and – here’s the legal twist – Letterman’s unnamed lawyer helped orchestrate the sting on his alleged extortionist. The former producer had once been hard-pressed against the Letterman lady also, but was now evidently just hard pressed and needed a quick couple of mil. That’s Letterman’s line anyway. The New York attorney general now has the Letterman file on his desk and, judging from his prosecution record, will not let it gather dust. The issue, meanwhile, has expanded the debate about abuses of power, sex in the workplace and all that stuff that late night comedians enjoy so much.

Me Too

And I too have to make an apology. The litany of Letterman falseness caught me in its pernicious web too. So caught up in false questions and answers was I that I referred to the Commerce Commission, a terrifically wonderful group of earnest achievers who battle for even play and fairness in commerce, were described as xenophobes because of their refusal to grant the Canadians the right to buy Auckland Airport. We all know that was wrong and that it was the New Zealand government who vetoed the deal and who were the xenophobes. In fact, the Commerce Commission deserve a giant box of chocolates for bringing the banks to heel over credit card “multilateral interchange fees”, which is bank-speak for inflating card charges on Visa and Mastercard through these illegally charged fees. Retailers pay less, we pay less and the banks get a kicking. Again.

Commissioners Everywhere

But talking of phobias and Commissions, you can hardly blame anyone for getting overcome with confusion. Like parking wardens, commissions are everywhere, populating our buildings and streets, busily telling us what to do and where to do it. Whether it’s electricity, securities, childrens rights, the ever-present, sacrosanct, ‘human rights’, privacy, environment, retirement – goodness me, where and when will they stop. The best, of course, are the ‘Cease and Desist’ commissioners, presently represented, warden-like, by Helen Cull QC and Sir Ian Barker. Let’s assume for the moment that they’re all necessary, what is also occurring is a developing uncertainty about how law is interpreted. To the credit of Dr Mark Berry, our friend the Commerce Commission’s chairman, his work towards increasing regulatory certainty is welcome. As indeed was the feisty performance of his predecessor Paula Rebstock, who unfortunately for her stood on a few too many corporate toes.

Bad Times in Little Samoa

Perversity abounds throughout history, but the Samoan tragedy (and I’m not talking Phillip Taito Field here) makes me wonder how much better placed our friendly neighbours would be had we not kicked Jerry out in 1914. Frankly, our history of involvement with Samoan administration was poor from that point forward and the very least we can do now is help rebuild the country with a little more vision and commitment than what has been previously displayed. We started with poor, indecisive leadership, which largely gave rise to the Mau opposition movement in the 1920s and 1930s, we used the Land and Titles commission badly and with insensitivity towards local custom and understanding about property ownership and then, as if all this wasn’t enough, we cocked up the law drafting for the country’s independence which resulted in the Privy Council ruling that Samoans born between the 1920s and 1940s to be New Zealand citizens. Our eviction of the German occupation of the islands in 1914 ill-served Samoa. Will we serve them better now when the dark cloud that unleashed such horrors upon them could well have a silver lining in terms of presenting the country with a better long-term relationship with us?

Golf, Anyone?

The Devil’s Own celebrated it’s 75th anniversary last week, being the longest-running private golf competition in New Zealand and attracting judges and lawyers from far (Jimmy Kilpatrick, Whangarei) and wide (Tony Chrisp, Gisborne, Ben Frampton, Christchurch). Held in Palmerston North each September, there are more tales about this tournament than can be told in here – tales of gambling sessions and all manner of extra-judicial activity springs to mind. Tauranga’s David Duggin took the purse this year with a fine performance, while my old mate Dick Howie, a principal organiser, managed to take out the sought-after ‘Red Cap’, otherwise known as the Dorrington Flight, being the distinctive red pom pom worn at the tournament by the late Judge Brian Blackwood. I’ll need to check whether this was an inside job by Dick, but in the meantime let’s give credit where it’s due. Among the veterans are Te Kuiti coroner Wally Bain, retired Judge John Gatley, Wellington’s Colin Beyer, John McCardle and the Wairarapa Blathwayts.

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