Not guilty of aiding and abetting over Christmas carol

In my shy, retiring and very English way, I have been busy disclaiming credit for things this month. Those of you who were at the Judicial Roundtable at Georgetown, or who read my account of it, will know that I felt compelled to take the microphone when the US judges were praising various aspects of the UK e-disclosure model. I said that we were happy to hear praise for the rules and the spirit of proportionality which they promote, but that I wanted to make it clear that the practice does not yet live up to the promise which the rules imply.

In the same spirit, I must stress that I do not deserve the credit given to me for Jonathan Maas’ spirited e-disclosure version of the Twelve Days of Christmas which appears on Charles Christian’s Orange Rag today  The idea, and all bar two of the words, were Jonathan’s. My only input was a minor point of scansion, and the suggestion that Jonathan was “aided and abetted” by me dilutes the credit which properly belongs with him.

There’s more to it than not wanting to share the limelight. I thought I had better look up the expression “aided and abetted”. One web definition says this:

Notice, however, that before any person can be held criminally responsible for the conduct of others it is necessary that the person wilfully associate himself in some way with the crime, and wilfully participate in it. Mere presence at the scene of a crime and even knowledge that a crime is being committed are not sufficient to establish that a person either directed or aided and abetted the crime.

It’s a risk management matter, really. On the one hand I might share in the royalties and be able to retire. On the other hand, if Paul Chambers can get a criminal conviction and £3,000 in fines and costs for a 140 character tweet, God knows what the CPS will make of a 12 verse poem. Pro rata to word-length, my share of the royalties would be 1/1717th of the gross receipts and the financial penalty would be £52,157.15. My risk assessment suggests that I forgo the chance of royalties and deny that I aided and abetted.

Thank you, Jonathan, anyway, for brightening up a dull Friday.


About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
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