A cure for insomnia…

Training attendance is the price I pay if I’m to retain my judicial appointment.

(No, no. Don’t get too excited. This is small beer stuff. I’m no high flyer.)

So, today I spent a day ‘being trained’. Being forced to remember all that I had learned too long ago – to revisit a subject I thought my legal books and case law would suffice for (if really forced).

TUPE. The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 and then 2006… 77/198/EEC… 98/50 EC…Directive 2001/23/EC…

Why, oh why, TUPE?

Because the Government are consulting on possible changes.

TUPE was exciting once.

I think I remember. At the height of  Thatcher’s revolution it represented some little protection for employees who faced transfer of their jobs to another employer. It made it less (only ultimately a little less) attractive for private contractors to bid for public services – ‘contracting out’ – when they faced the prospect of having to honour those employees’ same terms and conditions.

It came about because of Italy. Give it up for the Italians and their 1960s/70s employment law practices!

TUPE has long since had its high day. Cleverer legal minds than mine have picked it apart and exposed its bones – which were suddenly found to be full of holes. And the EAT has managed a lot of strange, sometimes contradictory caselaw on the subject.

There are a few areas of law which I hate. Which I dread. Where my mind seems to shut down as soon as I lift my books. But of them all, I hate TUPE. I dread being asked about TUPE.

Making the day worse (for me), the trainer lectured. In a whining monotone he delivered very competent material, punctuated by well-intentioned references to his personal life.

And so I had travelled into Glasgow down a time travel tunnel to find myself in a curious old-fashioned lecture. Something I’d just about forgotten happened.

Years of training via workshops and focus groups and working groups and video-conferencing and e-training and role-playing and…

I was sat in a stuffy room, facing a whiteboard with the smizzling rain of a grey Wednesday-Glasgow falling on the window behind me and I remembered why a term of University lectures had convinced me I was narcoleptic.

Vice President came first. Bearing an hour long gift of depressing statistics. Then the trainer delivered two 100 minute lectures back-to-back. Filling in for the folk who should’ve but couldn’t be there. Time dripped by. Measured by rain on the glass plate, by my pen’s scratching of notes and then single words and then doodles on the powerpoint, by twitching and fidgeting, by the sitting unease of near four hours on a straight backed tribunal room chair and a growing cramp in thigh and calve.

And then, between the nagging of boredom and the heat and the metronome anti-cadence of human voice my head began to feel too heavy for my neck, eyelids too heavy for my sight, the whole weary day of lecture and learning too heavy for a mind full of dreaming and of not wanting to be there.

A lifetime of learning and I still have no self-discipline in the classroom. If it’s not new and not challenging I simply switch off. I’m 45 and yet I do this to myself time after time. I just allow myself to drift.

I haven’t a clue what it is I was meant to learn today. Except that 4 hours in the same hard chair hurts your back.

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13 thoughts on “A cure for insomnia…

  1. The Transfer of Undertakings Regulations were my ewe lamb….the subsequent English legislation kept me in wine and cheese for years!
    It allowed me to retire to work on paper only….

    I remember the preparations for the first cases under the Regulations….the ECJ was considering a case and an unfavourable (to workers) report had been given by the then Advocate General…(English as it happened).
    We had to make sure the courts here understood that the AG's report was only advisory, to explain how the ECJ system worked, to attempt to show how English practice in interpretation had to be used in the light of the ECJ system of interpretation…and somehow we did it without upsetting the notoriously susceptible judges involved.

    After Scottish Sunday sermons following which we had a grilling from grandmother, lectures were no bother….I've never had to sit through a three Imperial drop one.

  2. You are definitely not alone. The only lecturer who managed to make some of our lectures interesting became a lifelong friend until he died last year. When I occasionally lectured for Inlogov I used to use all sorts of techniques to try and keep people awake usually involving rather unconventional (in those days) methods. They had to be unconventional because often the people I was lecturing knew far more than I did about the subject and I had to forestall awkward questions!

    PSD I haven't bye-passed your last post. It's just that I need to stay awake long enough to take it all in for a response – not a reflection on the subject but a reflection on my cognitive span.

  3. I read and re-read this and felt such a surge of envy and excitement. You made the law. You and your colleagues.

    You got to work at the beginning of it. Shaping understanding.

    I stumbled into law. It's taken me to this age to really appreciate it. To feel a real sense of excitement when I read new law – or am allowed close enough to the draftsmen and the Government to influence the language of a Statute (Childrens Hearings (Scotland) Bill as was). I enjoy using the Equality Act just now. There are so many doors to open and meanings to explore. So many good fights to fight. I wish though that I had come to law with a different head – that the way I feel now was how I had felt then. I make no excuses. I just wasn't dedicated enough at the start. I didn't stick in! Though I enjoy what I do now.
    I do feel unworthy of your readership Fly.
    I had a granpa who gave Sunday lectures – he was a Free Church Sunday School Supervisor… Grim.

  4. I cannot ever imagine you 'lecturing' – I can only imagine you were an excellent 'presenting'…

    I promise I will give the soapbox a rest! I am beginning to bore even me with my 'rants'.

    I'm in Fife tomorrow and am determined to walk along a beach. Maybe that'll give me a good photo and an easier on the brain post…

  5. Unworthy of readership, my —-….you need that walk on the beach!

    We all do what we do…..and sometimes we're lucky enough to fall into something exciting.
    I think if you've any soul, law gets to you in the end…there's always some area to intrigue you, to fire you up…and thoroughly frustrate you!
    But remember, I always wanted to be a lawyer…you had lawyerdom thrust upon you…
    Off to the beach with you…

  6. Haha. Walk on the beach planned. Miserable rain or no rain. Fife can be so beautiful – and sometimes especially so in the mists. If the iphone's up to it I can take a photo to post.
    Meetings re an indirect discrimination case to handle in the morning. I am fired up about it. Really enjoying reading my IDS tome. Never thought I'd say that!

  7. I think for most people it takes some years for their Inner Geek to kick in. I started law at age 18 and abandoned it in my early 20s, before finding my way back some years later, all fired up (one of those annoying mature-age students who actually does all the reading). Like you, though, I never mastered the art of staying focused (or, let's be honest, even awake) during long lectures. 45 minutes at a time is about as much as I can handle.

  8. I have tried never to regret anything in life. Sometimes now, though, I look back at a professional life spent on the fringes of the law and politics (so to speak) and wonder what would have happened if I'd completed my law degree and my bar studies and not reverted to my chosen career in the public service.

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