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Why read the Art of War by Sun Tzu?

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  Most people engage in litigation only once in their lives, unless they have a very understanding spouse. At the outset, there is a lot to be gained by reading  The  Art of War  by Sun Tzu , which is not only a manual of military strategy, but a sage guide to engaging in conflicts both business and personal.  I first came across the Art of War when I lived in Hong Kong. It was written about 2,500 years ago by Sun Tzu, general of the Kingdom of Wu. Much has been written about the Art of War by management gurus and others so that there are at least 1,500 titles in paperback on Amazon alone.  The Art of War has an immediate strategic advantage when compared with any law book in that it is only thirteen chapters (6,000 words) long in translation, available for immediate download and free.  [1] It was written at a time when an ill-advised attack on a neighbouring state could lead to disaster and death. This may not be the case in a dispute between neighbours today, but if you have ever bee

How to take down your enemy's website

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S omeone has got something on their website which belongs to you. It could be a photograph, an article or all or part of your own website. You ask them to remove the offending item and they either refuse to do so or ignore you. In a perfect world you would launch a cyber attack, or send an 11 man Israeli assassination team dressed as tennis players to take them out. Less satisfying but just as effective, would be to have the host of the offending website switch it off until the offending items were removed by the website owner. Here is a three step plan to achieve this: • Tell your IT person the problem and ask him to find out who hosts the offending site. If you try to do this yourself you will be awash with terms; some vaguely familiar such as domain name and internet service provider (ISP) and others that are way out, such as WHOIS, carriage service provider, registrar and registrant. • Send the host a Take Down Notice. This is a request which identifies the infringing content a

What is copyright infringement?

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I f you have read The Da Vinci Code (DC) and The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (“HBHG”) as I have, you have probably decided that they are very different books. You will not be surprised to hear that a UK High Court judge supports our view. So how is it that what would have cost a legal advice fee of about a couple of hundred dollars on the Sunshine Coast in Australia has cost over $US4.5M in London?  Although it sometimes depends on the idea, the smart money was on DC, as every copyright lawyer knows that copyright does not protect “the idea but the expression of the idea”; although it depends on the idea.  For instance, a story where boy meets girl, boy loses girl and boy gets girl back is not protected by copyright. It is just an idea, and many stories have this theme. What if the girl was a cowboy? This is a novel twist (or so John Wayne would have had us believe), but still just an idea. What if you went further still and copied some words from a cowboy film such as “giddyup” or “

Injunctions—stop in the name of the law

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In the old days people would rush before the King and demand justice and he would immediately deal with the case. When the King decided to knock that on the head lawyers got hold of litigation and implemented increasingly more longwinded processes. Today the processes are relatively quick but you still need to jump the hurdles of your lawyer wanting to send a warning letter to the other side, collecting detail and paperwork, taking statements and doing a lot of messing about called solid preparation. It takes weeks before you can slap a writ on your enemy and worse still, they don’t even call it a writ anymore. However, if the matter is urgent, for example, your former employee gives your client list to a competitor or a neighbour threatens to knock down your wall or tree or a nuclear attack is imminent, you can be in court the following morning. In urgent matters a court will order an interim injunction to stop the action until the case can be heard.  But courts do not grant injunctio

Your money lives on when you are gone

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  Anyone who has watched Midsummer Murders on TV will know how unexpectedly death can occur. As distressing as your death might be, handled properly it is a fantastic tax avoidance event. With a well set-up trust, your business affairs can continue and no one need miss you at all (so accountants say). However, leave a mess and your relatives must sort it out, as well as coping with their abject grief at losing you. There are three steps to putting your legal affairs in order prior to your immediate demise. STEP 1      A will Many of you might prefer to leave this detail until you are on your deathbed. Apart from causing your lawyer to run around like a scalded cat it can be a prelude to the family dividing between those who were at the deathbed and who, coincidentally, benefited from the will, and those who couldn’t make it and lost out. STEP 2      An enduring power of attorney This enables one, two or more people chosen by you (called attorneys) to deal with your affairs if you are i

Fights with Members of your Club or Association

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  Club membership has so much more to offer than a game of tennis, bowls or a few social drinks. Add to that intrigue, gossip, conflict, and the cut and thrust of the committee meeting which spills over to the AGM and it can be all-out war. You may not know the club rules back to front. Nonetheless, every committee member and any member being disciplined should know the law of natural justice which has two basic rules: Rule 1 - No bias Even the most hard-nosed committee should be using words like “We want to listen to your side,” “We want to be fair to you” and “Have you anything else to say?” before finding an accused member guilty as charged. Punching the air and other expressions of joy at an exclusion or suspension is behaviour that committee members should try to avoid. Rule 2 - Every person is entitled to a fair hearing This means that the accused member is to be given reasonable notice of the hearing and written details of the allegations in advance. In these two rules, there li

Suspicious Circumstances: 7 Things to Check When You are Left Out of a Will

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  Sun Tzu: The rising of birds in their flight is the sign of an ambush. Startled beasts indicate that a sudden attack is coming. When your rich uncle leaves you out of his will, the obvious explanation is that he was nuts. However if the will appears rational and correctly executed the court will presume that the deceased was mentally competent unless there are suspicious circumstances.  The nature of the suspicious circumstances can depend on the inventiveness of the deceased's family, friends and neighbours but here are some examples: Enfeebled physical and mental state e.g. medical evidence of significant cognitive impairment and continual deterioration.  Evidence of confusion e.g. concerns by friends that the deceased would sign anything put in front of him.   Lack of care in preparation by the lawyer e.g. no written record or over 5 (make that 15) typos.  A carer left a substantial benefit. Terms of the will departed significantly from previous will e.g. it excludes a person