Sunday, 29 November 2015

( Article by Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi )

No matter where you look ,  disciplinary processes and decisions are often flawed giving rise to well founded claims that those in the dock have been cheated of justice.
Even universities , where disciplinary panels are made up of extremely well qualified staff with access to the resources and expertise located in their law faculties , operate like amateurs making one mistake after another. 
In a recent article in the " I " newspaper , Dr Daniel Sokol , a leading barrister in this field of law , seemed  appalled at the lamentable performance of these high powered disciplinary panels. On many occasions he felt the process was a disgrace , and therefore much of his criticism was directed at the chairmen involved.
There was so many failings within  the disciplinary process  which  beggared belief , as outlined in the following extract :

The author then went on to say that in some cases the length of the initial hearing was no more than 15 minutes , even though expulsion was clearly on the cards. When certain things needed to be disclosed they were not. So when he , on behalf of the student , reminded the chair that a particular report should have been disclosed earlier  to allow time to review it , the chair's response was " We don't do that , and we find that the report just confuses students ".

This notion that we did what we felt was right smacks of gross naivety , vanity and self-delusion. Not only should appeal panels religiously follow their own rules and regulations to the letter , but they also need to recognise and adhere to the basic rules of natural justice. Yet panels choose to give students , say accused of plagiarism , a really hard time. This is fine , as long as the questions are fair. Moreover , panels should not automatically greet evidence produced by the students with suspicion , whilst at the same time taking testimony of the academic staff making the complaint at face value as infallible evidence . Indeed , there had been instances of students being denied the opportunity to call key witnesses to give evidence on their behalf. Once when acting as counsel he pointed out to the panel  a query regarding evidence given against the student by an absent witness , since he/she was unable to confirm their evidence , or have it challenged by others. And what was the chairman's response ?  " Oh , it wouldn't make any difference anyway ". This reply sent out a clear message that guilty verdicts had already been decided upon. 
What the author knows to be true is that any person brought up before a disciplinary body has the fundamental right to expect a reasonable standard of fairness , throughout the whole process. This could only be possible if the panelists were properly trained , resourced , and supported by those in a position to offer sound legal advice and guidance. This quasi-judicial task is not one which should be carried out by ill-trained panelists with little understanding of what constitutes a " fair " hearing . No one deserves a panel who simply reach decisions on the basis that they feel what they're doing is right . Surely , the process needs to be right in order to arrive at a fair and correct outcome ?  A tainted process raises too many questions about the reliability, merit and value of the outcome. No one deserves to be cheated of justice.    

Friday, 27 November 2015


In the bizarre world of bridge , you will always find in every club at least one player who suffers from this egocentric complex. Often this afflicted person has physical shortcomings in terms of height and stature , but his game however will always be head and shoulders above the rest, when it comes to subtle art of bidding and card play. Victims of the Napoleon Complex are consequently blessed with high reputation and publicly acknowledged leadership qualities.
The classic symptoms of this condition are ; 
- a vertically challenged physique or facial disfigurement , which they choose to ignore or hide
  behind a rhetoric of bravado and self-worship
- self-centrism which is the consequence of years of self-isolation as a child , but essential as a 
  quality to persevere and develop his/her unique talent at bridge
- a tendency to assume leadership and dominance over others , alongside a passionate desire
  to control and manipulate the masses
- the need to harness and nurture a devoted band of followers
- an uncontrollable urge to hold court , lecturing and preaching to those in attendance on the 
  finer and more subtle aspects of the game
Sadly however , this complex never goes away , and although it never results in others being put at risk of serious harm , there is a likelihood that excessive exposure to such a person will lead to problems such as chronic " ear-bashing " ear ache ". 

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

LAW REPORT :  GILBERT and others v BIGOT-JOHNSON and others ( 2015 )

( In this landmark case a group action claim for negligence against Bigot-Johnson and his fellow committee members came up before High Court judge. Having lost their previous case, Bigot and the committee were obliged to pay an unbelievably high legal bill  , which was to be paid out of club funds. Some of the ordinary members now reeling under this financial burden wanted to refinance the club from the personal damages obtained against the committee members for their negligent mismanagement of club finances. Bigot as usual elected to act as defence counsel , and this short extract from the trial's transcript covered a critical stage of the trial . ) 

Counsel for the plaintiffs ( CP ) : Might I point out Bigot that in any club  the contractual relationship between the members imposes a duty upon the elected committee to manage the affairs of the club in a competent way. Such a contract will contain an implied term that financial decisions are carried out with reasonable skill , care and diligence. This action could be framed as a claim in contract , or alternatively in this a free standing claim in negligence against each and every committee member. Your conduct would be measured by the standards which it would be reasonable to expect of a comparable and competent committee in all the circumstances of this case.
B-J : There is no case to answer. We always carried out all our duties with the club's best interests in mind , and decisions we took were supported and endorsed by the membership.
CP : Who of course voted on issues regarding a previous legal battle without never knowing the full facts...... or their long term financial implications. The club and all its members suffered a great financial loss because of the committee's refusal to admit liability for the damage to a member's car. The committee in fact allowed the dispute to go all the way to in this case....with no guarantee of winning. 
B-J : Well....we didn't lose that case as I recall
CP : Yes that's true .....but quite rightly the judge ordered that both parties should meet their own legal costs ......which for your side amounted to nearly £200,000
B-J : We couldn't let that bastard hold us to ransom for criminal damage caused by an unknown third party
CP : Sometimes choosing the lesser of two financial evils makes really good sense
B-J : Might I remind you that I and my fellow committee members have always gone about our business in a very efficient and effective way. We are all principled people totally committed to stand up for what we consider as " doing the right thing " no matter what the cost
CP : But it wasn't your money which was at made sure you had nothing to was the club and all its members who had to face and finance the legal costs incurred. Costs that I might add represent fruitless and wasteful expenditure , which was made in vain and could have been avoided had reasonable care been exercised
B-J : Rubbish.....we did what any committee would have done
CP : I think not. Would average men in your position chosen to incur such expenditure knowing that the club's whole future could be put at risk ? Funding a dispute all the way to court is absolutely unnecessary , especially when cheaper options , like mediation , were readily available.
B-J : But we went to mediation...
CP : But only after after two years of stubborn resistance and refusal , and only then when ordered to do so by a judge..... you scuppered the process by turning up to the mediation hearing with a rigid set of non-negotiable preconditions  
B-J : Oh.....
CP :  Negligence as you well know involves establishing a duty of care based on a reasonably foreseeable risk of loss or financial damage. And any numpty can foresee that litigation involves heavy costs which are never likely to be recovered. Your task as a committee was to look at the most cost effective options , and/or employ damage limitation strategies , which you failed to do. This unfortunate omission on your part amounts to gross negligence. This " bring it on " attitude of yours was both reckless and regrettable
B-J : So what does one do when being sued by a member who claimed we were at fault for the damage to his car ?
CP : Acknowledge that you knew  " someone " had already damaged other members' cars in previous weeks but then failed to take steps to avoid further incidents . Acknowledge that he had a justifiable claim given your refusal to employ a car park attendant , which would have cost so little. Acknowledge the fact that paying the member £2,000 for his car repairs was small change in comparison to the cost of fighting his claim in court.   
Judge :  I've heard enough .....Bigot are someone who will never learn....and as such I have no choice but to find the plaintiffs. Damages with be set to the level of the legal bill incurred by the club in the previous case , which will be used to refinance the club .....and in addition to that.... all costs in this case with will met by you and your foolhardy committee members
B-J : Bugger....bugger.....bugger 

Sunday, 22 November 2015


  • This Club's Expenditure Is Running Way Ahead Of Income..............Annette Loss
  • That Lady Managed To Make Every Slam She Punted.....................Rhoda Luck
  • I'veJust Played 10 Hours Of Non-stop Internet  Bridge......................Al Dunning
  • Why Did Your Partner Slap You Across The Face ?..........................Helda Juggs
  • Playing Cold Contracts Is What I Love Doing The Most....................Jack Frost
  • Don't Tell Me You Believe I Cheat At This Game ?............................Gill T. Azelle
  • Getting Married Put A Stop On A Glittering Bridge Career...............Nora Gretz
  • What Decorations Can The Club Afford To Buy This Christmas ?.......Aretha Holly
  • That Man Has The Knack Of Getting Any Lady To Partner Him...........Fanny Tickler
  • I Would Avoid That Man Like The Plague..........................................E. Bowler
  • Sorry , But This Club Has Refused Your Application To Join.............Doris Schutt
  • Spotting Who Is Cheating At The Table Is Easy................................Ike Cantelle

Saturday, 21 November 2015


( A snippet from the trial's lengthy transcript involving the infamous flying bridgemate incident and the alleged wrongful expulsion which stemmed from it )

Judge : Are you telling me , Bigot , that you launched and propelled a bridgemate across the table within inches of an opponent's nose ?
Bigot : Yes....I did
Judge : Well , from seeing the video evidence of the re-enactment..... this swift and sudden act seems both misdirected and misguided 
Bigot : What !  Misdirected ?   Misguided ?  How dare you make inferences. I can assure you that this airborne manoeuvre was carried out with military precision and pin point accuracy ....just like a laser guided missile ......because no way was there any deviation from its intended flight path
Judge : Sorry Bigot......I stand corrected

Wednesday, 18 November 2015


Dear Alistair ,

I'm a little perturbed by the content and tone of your letter. Your membership application was rejected for good reasons , but basically it was a case of you not be able to meet our high expectations and lofty ideals. As you know this bridge club is privately owned and managed by myself with the assistance of a few well trained lackeys. Indeed , it is the club's policy to exclude anyone we consider to be from the lower end in our society,  which certainly applies to you.
The Slaughter House prides itself on catering for people of real stature , blessed with excellent overview of things. Although I accept I was wrong to label you as a child actor , you were at least placed on the short list before the vetting committee finally decided to reject your application. 
Now you may well ask " Why was that ? ". Well , surely you must know. As a 4 foot 4 inch misfit you belong to that group of growth retarded individuals , commonly referred to midgets , hobbits , dwarfs , and pygmies. And according to the club's Constitution the rules on membership are clear and precise : members must be of good standing who are capable of taking big strides towards self-actualisation and achievement.
Moreover , the club doesn't provide big enough table-chair cushions.... and standing on the seats during play is strictly forbidden. 

Yours faithfully,
                  Howard Bigot-Johnson ( Chairman and Chief Executioner )

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

COGNITIVE ILLUSIONS ....... ( Article by Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi )

Cognitive illusions occur when the flawed , irrational thinking individuals still choose to hold onto their erroneous beliefs , even though evidence can be produced to show that the premise on which those beliefs were founded lacked any credibility whatsoever. 
Psychological experiments have shown time and time again that a belief founded on original knowledge known to be false still exerts a lingering influence on all subsequent decisions and judgements. It is impossible for the flawed , irrational individual to hit the reset button. A poisoned mind unfortunately remains poisoned, since there are no known antidotes to cure cognitive illusions. 
Jurors provide a wonderful example of people renown for succumbing to cognitive illusions. Lawyers know this human trait all too well , as they set out to plant the seeds of a false belief in the minds of such gullible people. Once the jury adopt a view or belief about the accused , then the outcome almost becomes a foregone conclusion. Objections by the opposing counsel will no doubt be lodge , and judges will ask the jury to disregard the " these last statements ", but to no avail. The poisonous seeds once planted will leave a permanent impression on the minds of the jurors. So even when compelling evidence is introduced later on by the opposing counsel , it is completely ignored. The erroneous belief is firmly in place and with it a predetermined verdict which refuses to be dislodged.
So in the context of a bridge club's disciplinary process , the committee are obliged to act as both judge and jurors. However , the fact that they all hold subjective opinions about the accused member, whether positive or negative , does not bode well for justice. If he/she has already been labelled as a " bad apple " , the incident complained of can never be looked at in an impartial and objective way. 

Committee members will come to the meeting ( or hearing ) with a set belief , and even when evidence is produced to discredit , undermine or disprove that belief , pre-judgements based on that belief have already been made. Many will have invested a significant amount of cognitive effort in making sure that belief is consistent with the psychological feelings they have towards the accused member. Therefore feelings of loathing and hatred fly in the face of fairness and justice , as the committee will be extremely persistent and resistant to change. The cognitive illusion forbids such change , and so an insidious errors of judgement will be made.
The Human Condition is such that we all to a lesser or large extent suffer from a multitude of failings and shortcomings. But the real tragedy is that each one of us remains blissfully unaware of the construction of our beliefs , and the mental processes that lead to them. Belief perseverance is in itself the reason why so much injustice occurs. People only believe what they want to believe in , and reject anything they choose not to believe in. Cognitive illusions , like optical illusions , distort what we see , or believe to be seeing . Indeed, cognitive illusions completely undermine the individual's ability to look at things with an open mind.  

Sunday, 8 November 2015

BRIDGE BOOKS FOR QUALITY BEDTIME READING................ Recommendations by Pun )

  • Members In My Club Are A Right Mishmash...............................Allan Sundrey
  • So Tell Me What Shape Was Your Partner's Hand......................L. E. Fantine 
  • Someone Had To Tell That Woman The Error Of Her Ways.........Sue I Tolder 
  • Oh No My Partner's Looking Agitated Yet Again..........................Ena Flapp
  • Why Wont Our Chairman Ever Face Up To Reality......................N. D. Nyall
  • Those Allegations About Me Are A Load Of Balls.......................Tess Tickles
  • Any Player Suspected Of Cheating Action Is Called For............Mark Hiskard
  • My Game Has Gone Completely To Pieces.................................A. Wyre
  • What All Stressed Out Bridge Players Need To Take.................Ann O'Dyne
  • Should A Player Get Physically Abusive Then Restrain Him......Ed Lock 
  • Bridge Players Need To Relax And Take Things Easy...............Mel O'Ness
  • I'll Tell You What Our Chairman Should Do.................................Stan Downe
  • No Way Do I Refer To Coloured Members In Racist Terms.........Sam Bowes
  • Buccaneering Bridge Is What My Game Is All About...................Sally Mann
  • She Gets UI from Tuning In To Loose Talk On Other Tables.......Ann Tanner 
  • How Is The Team Getting On At The Other Tables ?...................Fay Lyne Badleigh 

Friday, 6 November 2015

IN DEFENCE OF SARCASM.............( Article by Bigot-Johnson )

Does it never occur to people that sarcasm is not the lowest form of wit but the highest. Moreover , it can only be delivered by those who are blessed with a higher form of intellect and intelligence. Indeed it is people like me who set out with a clear agenda to help these critics improve their own intellectual capacities.
Some of these dullards have the audacity to suggest that the extent of my sarcasm is associated with an outrageous arrogance. But hold here.....surely gifted as I am with intelligence and wit ,  I am entitled to be arrogant. Nevertheless I do acknowledge that I am no Graucho Marx , who without a shadow of doubt was the greatest of them of all. In terms of off-the-cuff sarcastic quips this man had no equal. He took sarcasm up to unprecedented heights :
sublime , excruciatingly funny and utter devastating.
In my mind sarcasm is a bold and noble attempt to expose a truth by means of stating the opposite , or by making gross or absurd exaggerations. It is in effect making a joke of hard unpalatable truths. Too many readers fail to register and accept any disturbing and unsettling facts. Therefore such revelations need to be knocked into their tiny heads with a magical hammer forged out of  pure sarcasm and acid wit. But then these dullards have the bare faced cheek to object to the choice of language used. 
And what of the victims of such vitriolic attacks ? If they are guilty of crimes , immoral acts or other forms of unacceptable behaviour, then why not expose such wrongdoings by means of poetic licence , verbal dexterity and imagination laced with well crafted figures of speech. To craft sarcasm is an incredible challenge , worthy of praise , and these people who have been exposed in this way should regard it all as flattery. They should take responsibility for their actions and in doing so respect the authors for putting them firmly into the spotlight.    

Wednesday, 4 November 2015


Dear Bigot ,
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Roger M. Knightley and to put it mildly I'm a buccaneering, womanising, fun loving bridge player ,  who always sets out to speak his mind and ruffle a few feathers. As yet I have not found a club happy to  accept my talents and cavalier attitudes.
Indeed , I am writing to you in a state of profound despair. Every club I have ever joined has slung me out ,  claiming my presence had a severe negative effect on the social harmony and friendly atmosphere , committee members were keen to promote. These puritans were all obsessed with cleansing the membership of undesirables , a category into which I unfortunately fell.
Having heard so much about the Slaughter House Bridge Club , I felt this could be the place where I truly fit in. I want to leave behind all the polite bullshit pleasantries, false bon hommie , holding my tongue , walking on eggshells , pious attitudes , blind obedience , doing what I'm told , best behaviour rules , zero tolerance policies , stepping back from conflict and confrontation , benign compliance and submission , all of which have squeezed the life and character out of my very being. I want to play bridge in a place where anything goes , reminiscent of Sir Francis Dashwood's Hell Fire Bridge Club which first came to prominence in the early 18th century.
I know that as a seasoned campaigner , with my colourful personality , outrageous behaviour , and immense talent at bridge I can make a meaningful contribution to the bridge experience enjoyed by your members, You Bigot must recall how important it was for you to escape from the straitjacket of conformity and be true to yourself. Look at you now . You're chairman of the most infamous bridge club in the world and one of selectors for the national team . probably netting £50,000 a year or more from backhanders and bribes.  
So by joining this inclusive,  amoral society of like-minded men and women I would surely be in dream land . Please find the enclosed cheque to assist you with processing my application , and I hope to hear from you very shortly.

The Devil be with you also ,
                                 Roger M. Knightley


Monday, 2 November 2015


Now in its final stages this forthcoming literary masterpiece is all set to take the bridge book market by storm. The author Fuller Payne provides the reader with a harrowing tale of woe. In effect , it is a study of the Human Condition , its shortcomings and failings , wrapped up in the saga and folly of lengthy litigation. Based on true facts , it is a story that beggars belief. There are no heroes or good guys , only casualties burdened with crippling financial costs.
For social and sports clubs , both large and small , this blockbuster of a book is an essential read if history is never to repeat itself. This shocking and riveting story shows how prejudice , ignorance , stubbornness , lack of foresight , arrogance and insanity provide the perfect ingredients for an unmitigated disaster. The author's aim is to first shock and then educate the reader. So in an attempt to whet your appetite , here is the list of chapter headings , designed to provide the reader with a potted history of this sad and tragic tale :

1.   Gathering storm clouds : rumblings of discontent 
2.   That dreadful man has to go
3.   Failed attempts and botched petitions 
4.   A new plot is hatched
5.   The infamous AGM
6.   A brutal backstabbing
7.   Triumphant committee takeover 
8.   We're here to do a job
9.   The flying bridgemate incident
10. The day of the kangaroos 
11. The stitch up 
12.  An appeal is lodged
13.  The kangaroos return
14.  Another stitch up
15.  The threatened lawsuit
16.   Bring it on : a cry of defiance
17.   Nothing will come of it
18.   It will all blow over
19.   We did nothing wrong
20.   Mediation is out of the question
21.   Not so says the judge
22.   Mediation day : the greatest non-event of all time
23.   Another pre-trial review
24.   What no defence ? The wasted costs order
25.   5 years of dispute and the wind is still blowing
26.   Trial date is set
27.   Another AGM : now panic in the ranks
28.   It's not our fault , we had no choice 
29.   We're only amateurs
30.   Judgement day arrives