It’s interesting to see how the world has moved on in terms of communication. Even in longform, most people will post on something like Medium. This blog is an anachronism: but one I’m not willing to turn off quite yet.
Sometime ago I posted a link to another blog containing a link to a degree classification calculator for Open University degrees. However, the way the classification is calculated for OU law degrees is slightly different. Luckily, it’s pretty simple to work out.
The OU law degree consists of 4 mandatory courses: W200, W201, W300 and W301. For W200 and W201, multiply your grade (1–4) for each course by 60. For W300 and W301, multiply it by 120 (to reflect the degree of significance for these courses). Take those four numbers and add them together. Their sum will give your class of degree:
- 630 or fewer — First class honours
- 631–900 — Upper second class honours
- 901‑1170 — Lower second class honours
- 1171 or more — Third class honours
There is one trick to this. If you have a poor result in either W200 or W201, you can replace half of it with a better result in one of the law short courses: W221, W222, W223 or W224. For example:
Grade 3 pass of W200: 3 × 60 = 180 points.
Grade 3 pass of W200 and a Grade 1 pass of W223: 3 × 30 plus 1 × 30 = 120 points
That can be enough to pull you up a grade!
Just for completeness — while you need to sit 360 points’ worth of courses, it is (with the exception noted above) only the 240 points of the mandatory law courses that count to your law degree classification.
Source: (and a really useful read for all OU law students) Choosing your path to an Open University Law degree: a guide
Mr Fallows’ car was damaged by a vehicle owned by the defendants. Liability was not an issue. Mr. Fallows’ vehicle was insured by Royal and Sun Alliance, who sought to recover their costs from the defendant’s insurers. The costs were £1825.53. Not a large sum. However, the defendants objected.
The reason for the objection was that Royal and Sun Alliance arranged repair via a wholly-owned subsidiary, which then contracted with a subcontractor, who actually repaired the vehicle. The subcontractor billed the subsidiary the sum of £1542.78. The subsidiary added on further costs, and billed Royal and Sun Alliance.
In Romford County Court, the defendants questioned the sum claimed. It was held that, given the duty to mitigate, the best evidence of reasonable cost of repairs was that which RSA’s subsidiary negotiated with the subcontractor. There was no evidence that RSA itself could only negotiate a higher price. While administration costs have been allowed by the courts in the past, there are no decisions allowing them to a subrogated insurer, let alone a subrogated insurer’s subsidary. And in counterbalance, there are decisions where administration costs have been disallowed.
The Judge (Platt J) said:
Since RSAARL is wholly owned by RSA the effect of these extra charges if they are paid by defendants is simply to boost RSA Group’s profits beyond the actual cost of repair by the margins inserted by RSAARL. I can find no basis in law for saying that this is a course of action which a claimant insurer is entitled to take [..]. On the evidence the defendant has clearly established a failure to mitigate on the part of the claimant.
Now that this judgment is public, the utility of this business arrangement to RSA is probably moot. Other insurers could use the same model. This however was found to be likely to lead to an increase in costs to the insured members of the public of some 25%.
RSA were held liable in costs to the defendant — exceedingly unusual in a small claim. Even though they were the claimant, they almost completely failed to comply with pre–action protocol and with the court–ordered discovery process. For example, the existence of a formal invoice from the repairer to RSA’s subsidiary was not disclosed, even once its existence had become apparent during the trial.
Permission was given to appeal.
Judgment in the case can be found on BAILII at Fallows v. Harkers Transport (A Firm)  EW Misc 16.
Data storage in the cloud is clearly the where things are moving just now. Given the plethora of devices people have — computers at home, laptops and tablets on the move, smartphones in the pocket, it makes perfect sense for all of a person’s devices to use a single, common repository for shared information. Services such as Apple’s forthcoming iCloud at the domestic level, and commonly–used services such as Google’s Google Apps, Salesforce.com and Microsoft’s Office 365 all store your data in their own clouds.
You’d think that this would be done with respect to Data Protection laws. Wrong. If the USA wants your data, the USA gets it. My friends Simon Bisson and Mary Branscombe have the details: regardless of European privacy directives and the UK Data protection act, the US see the PATRIOT act overriding these for US companies and EU subsidiaries of US companies:
That means that US government can (under the auspices of the act) request the data of any individual or company that’s using US-owned or hosted services, no matter where that data is actually being held. It doesn’t matter if you’ve geo-locked your data, and it only resides in European data centres, it can still be requisitioned and taken to the US. Yes, it’s an issue of national security, but when results can be found by machine learning and trawling massive data sets (the larger the better), there’s a temptation for governments to take all they can and more.
Undoubtedly this will lead to much hand–wringing in the EU Parliament. However, what can be done? It is unlikely that the USA will give up their powers.
Therefore, the only solution is in the hands of individuals and companies wishing to use cloud services — only use cloud services from wholly–EU–owned companies hosting your data inside the EU. While the legal protections you will have in those circumstances are not huge, they are better than none at all.
Oh — an afterthought. How happy do you now feel, if perhaps you have just given a whole heap of your personal information to Google, during the Google Plus sign–up process?
Worried about the amount of information you have stored in Google services? Fear not. Just launched today is Google Takeout — which allows you to take a local backup of (so far, some of) the information stored in several of the Google services.
It’s not yet full–featured: it only allows backup from Google Buzz, Contact and Circles, Picasa Web Albums and from your Google profile. But the Data Liberation Front promise to add the ability to back up other Google services over time.
This is their blog post announcing the service. Remember: backup early, backup often.
That was unexpected! I got notification yesterday that I’d been awarded a distinction on the Open University law course I did last winter: W223: Company law and practice.
The distinction was an unexpected pleasure as I thought I was only in 2:1 territory — I didn’t think I had quite the grade average necessary across the marked assignments — the Open University generally requires that your classification for a course will be the lower of your achievement in the final exam / end–of–course assignment, and of the average of your marked assignments throughout the course — though I knew I was only a percentage point or two short.
So, lessons learned from this course:
- Don’t overly concern yourself if you think you’re one or two percentage points short. Don’t use it as an excuse to drop your standards.
- Take time on end–of–course assignments. Everything you need, factually, is there. What can get you the bonus marks is a matter of looking a little further — research the current state of the law and academic comment about the questions at hand. Incorporate these into your answer, and cite every assertion you make.
- Make sure your bibliography and references are full and accurate: include every paper you read and found to be relevant, even if you didn’t use it. You never know when something has unconsciously slipped through.
- And finally, again, take time. Whilst making sure you can submit on time, use the last day for a re-read. Out loud. It’s amazing how many little grammatical slips you can find that way.
I enjoyed this course, and didn’t find it a slog at any point. But have to admit I’m very happy with the result.
I have just found this and though it worth a mention and link: Cleveret’s Open University Degree Class Calculator. It seems to do all the hard work correctly, including calculating the quality assurance scores.
Very useful if you want to work out what grades you need — therefore also what averages you’ll need to achieve in your course work over the course of the year. Accurately knowing the target you need to hit is pretty much essential, I think.
I’m back on the marked assignments again — I’m around a week ahead of schedule, which is good. Like the last one, this one too is one of tight word–counts: 800 for each of two questions.
I have written 932 words for one of the questions, and I am around 250 from finishing. I’m also finding it the easiest question I’ve attempted in ages.
Normally, when answering assignment questions, I spend more time worrying about the structure and the editing than getting the content down on paper. Working out what I need to say from what I want to say is a process that can drive me into paralysis. This time, I’m just not caring. Separating the writing phase and the editing phase turns out to allow me to write the answer I want to, then edit it into the answer that’s actually needed for submission to my tutor.
This isn’t a technique that will necessarily work well in exam conditions, however the technique of writing an answer plan first is similar, if in reverse. But I am going to continue to use it for the rest of my assignments, to see if it is a method to get around the paralysis I often feel when writing — what my friend Simon Pride described as my “inner censor”. I hope it does.
My road toward the law has been long and not direct — but one web site in particular kept my interest when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Given my science background and near–obsessive need for information, you may not be surprised that the site is BAILII.
BAILII is a database of case law. It contains recent decisions for the full range of courts and tribunals across the UK, historic decisions, and decisions from other jurisdictions. It is free to access, and the best way in the UK for the lay person to access case law, giving the ability to inform themselves about things like legal matters in the press, but more importantly giving the ability to research and arm themselves in situations where there can be little other help — a dispute with a public body, or an employer, for example.
Running BAILII is naturally not free. While a number of firms have made commitments to funding, more is required to guarantee the continuing survival of what, to me, is an essential service. Frankly, I think it should be a publicly–funded service, but that is not likely in this day and age.
If, like me, you believe this service should continue, please consider donating to BAILII. It is a charity, donations are managed via the Charities Aid Foundation, and are gift-aidable (please do that if you can, it means an extra 25% to them).
A man who killed two British tourists in Florida will not go to jail — even though he fled the scene and lied to the police. Ryan LeVin paid an undisclosed amount to the widows of those he killed, and will serve two years house arrest.
The offences’ sentencing guidelines call for up for 45 years’ imprisonment.
For all people complain about the UK justice system, I’m glad that it’s pretty much as it is.