Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dry Exercise

An army camp was on the edge of town, the base for a three-week exercise.

Military Police, equipped with no-nonsense manner and a brutal fish-eyed stare had visited the Wayside Tavern to inform that before, during, and after the exercise no soldiers would be patronising any pubs, breaches of this would be "very serious" for any soldiers who breached this.

At all hours of the day & night various Landrovers and Unimogs drove past the Wayside Tavern, the longing glances of the occupants almost painful to observe.

Three weeks without alcohol, as sacrifices go this isn't much of a hardship.

On a morning like any other, about 8am a landrover rushed into the yard of the Wayside Tavern.

Leaving the engine running, Three Private soldiers alighted, dashed inside fronting the bar in the manner of young children.

"Three VB's please" They beamed.

Ruefully Mine Host explained that it was a very serious offence to sell or supply liquor before trading hours.

Their faces fell. Their risk was great. Having parked in the yard & entered the pub meant their penalty would be just as severe.

Mine Host poured Three schooner sized glasses, placed the glasses on the bar, turned away, still explaining that he could not sell, or supply liquor at that time of day, & besides he was "too busy cleaning & testing the beer lines".

Coins clinking into the Blind Dog was the only sound.

Turning around Mine Host noted that the soldiers were gone and the schooner glasses were empty.

An Army Landrover catapaulted itself from the Hotel yard onto the safety of the street,
Mine Host put the schooner glasses into the dishwasher,
The clock ticked 8am.

Mine Host had seen nothing, sold nothing, supplied nothing.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A bit hot under the collar (postscript to the previous post)

Outside the courtroom, but in the courthouse, the "Financial Controller" of Scam Group Pty Ltd engaged Mine Host in a spot of conversation. He seemed to be of the (erronous) belief that Mine Host was knocked into line by the decision of the Magistrate & was now "seeing sense".

It became clear within about half a second that Mine Host did not believe there had been either a "full" or "fair" hearing in the court. (There often isn't if a Magistrate is involved)

The opening statement of the besuited smart-alec didn't help. "You realise we'll close your account now, standard procedure with anyone who has to be taken to court to own up to their obligations to us"

Mine Host pointed out succinctly that the disputed goods had just turned up unsolicited, that an account (or lack of) had not bothered "you fellers" much at the time the disputed goods were dispatched, that they need not think that court was their idea, as Mine Host would have gladly brought a case against them (in his own town).

This last sentence was quite a shock, & must have been delivered by Mine Host with the "ring of truth" to it, as the besuited spreadsheet jockey was clearly (until that moment) of the belief that Mine Host had been dragged unwillingly into court by Scam Group Pty Ltd.

Mine Host went on to question why he would ever want an account with people who operate in a manner as underhanded as the Scam Group Pty Ltd.

The "Financial Controller" (whatever that is) was quite enraged at this remark, and was well on the way to shaping up to Mine Host. He angrily retorted to Mine Host his displeasure that Mine Host would have even the remotest grounds for questioning either the integrity of Scam Group Pty Ltd, or the decision of the court.

The (extremely fat & toad eyed) telephonist woman tugged at the arm of her boss, quietly urging him to lay off a bit...

.....for she was the one who had made the calls & handled the matter, and she knew very well that no matter what the official position of Scam Group Pty Ltd, that Mine Host was 100% correct in everything he said, and that it would be wise to quit while they were ahead.

It may also have been obvious from Mine Host's eager expression that Mine Host was not averse to the idea of the besuited one taking a swing at him within the walls of the courthouse.

With six NSW police, two security guards, countless lawyers, & miscellaneous others watching, Mine Host would take one helluva hiding, you'd be able to tell that by the way he fell, & how, down on the courthouse carpet, he convulsed with pain.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Impartial Law Applied

Decisions by Magistrates in Australia cannot set legal precedents. Mine Host believes this to be an acknowledgement by the authorities of how ...er.. erratic Magistrates can be.

Online, in discussion groups etc, Mine Host is fed lots of rot about how Magistrates are "impartial" & "bound by law" (& other stuff just as far removed from what actually goes on in a Magistrates courtroom)

When recently in NSW, besides observing preceding cases, Mine Host had the interesting experience of the case in which he was involved.

Mine Host's version of events: Goods (envelopes, pens, etc) arrived unannounced by the boxload at the Wayside Tavern.
Attached to the boxes was a bill for several thousand dollars.

The envelopes & pens were imprinted with an email address, street address, phone number & the name of the Wayside Tavern, Mine Host noted the following weirdness:
The email address was incorrect (info@waysidetavern.com.au). Real email address: waysidetavern@bigpond.com
The street address was the wrong street and the wrong street number.
The name printed: Wayside Tavern & Bistro, (real name: "Wayside Tavern")

Mine Host telephoned the number on the bill, explained that the goods had been delivered in error, & should he send them back? The dispatching company stated coldly that Mine Host had ordered the goods, many months prior to their delivery, and must pay for them.

The dispatching company (clearly experienced in this scam) sent via fax a copy of an order form, with the blanks obviously filled out at their end by automation (not by handwriting), however the name and signature of the "authorised officer to purchase" at the bottom, were most definitely not those of Mine Host.

It was that of a receptionist from some months previously. The name was correct, but the signature did not match the signature on file for that ex-staff member.

Bumping into the ex-staff in the street, Mine Host asked if she could throw any light on the matter? She recalled being telephoned by the company, asked her name, and informed that a fax would be following, as "a previous manager" of the Wayside Tavern had ordered some goods, and that she must "sign off" on the order.

A telephone call accompanied the fax, instructing her to sign the fax and send it back. The fax was an order form already filled out, with her name typed on the bottom.

She ignored the fax, but after repeated phone calls advising her to sign & return the fax, she faxed it back, unsigned. When the company phoned to advise her that she had overlooked signing the fax, she stated that she would not be signing it. She assumed the matter had ended there.

She was most surprised to learn that some months later the goods had arrived, along with a bill, and the order form, purportedly duly signed by her.

When showed the order form she stated the signature was not hers. She subsequently produced an affidavit swearing the signature on the order form was not hers, and attached copies of several documents that did carry her signature, these being driver's licence, passport and the like. The signature on the driver's licence etc was not the same signature as the one on the order form.

An affidavit is sworn on a bible, in front of an impeccable witness, thus carries a lot of weight in a courtroom. The witness was a JP, and the lady swearing the affidavit was also a JP.

This brings us to why Mine Host is way down south in a NSW courtroom, defending a case brought against him for non-payment for "goods ordered".

The company that had sent the goods produced a lot of documents for the court, transcripts of telephone conversations with Mine Host, these transcripts clearly generated from some sort of software which is filled out while the telephone call is in process.

Also transcripts of a telephone call with the receptionist, made months after the order, in which she supposedly admits signing the order form. The format of this transcript is inconsistent with their other transcripts, this one being typed in the manner of the script of a school play, rather than generated by the call centre software... hmmmm....
Also submitted was the signed order form, and typewritten accounts of the saga. Mine Host noted that no officer of Scam company had put their personal signature at the bottom of their written accounts.

Presuming that his sworn affidavit would carry some weight, Mine Host was shocked by what happened next......

The Magistrate asked Mine Host how he had come by the affidavit from the receptionist.
When informed she had agreed to provide it after a chance conversation in the street, the Magistrate grunted "I find that hard to believe".
The Magistrate then went on to note that the signature on the affidavit did not match the signature on the order form provided by the company (er... the very point of the affidavit).

The Magistrate then asked the representative of the company was their written account true? The company piouly replied that what they had written was 100% truth.

The Magistrate then hammered a gavel onto his desk and stated "I find for the plaintiff" (that is, he found in favour of the scam company)

In the next few seconds Mine Host said several things which undoubtedly brought him very close to arrest for contempt of court or somesuch.

The topics covered in his "post-decision impromptu statement" were bigoted remarks about New South Wales in general, an observation that the town we were in was solidly anglo-saxon, and the affidavit may have carried some weight, except it was sworn by a JP who was a black woman, in front of a JP who was chinese.

Mine Host then leaned over the desk to the company representatives, congratulated them on getting a hometown decision, then spat out that the next time they phoned a black girl to sign a document & forged her signature it would not be settled in a "mexican court".

The junior of the two company people, a female telephonist who had placed the calls to the Wayside Tavern, spoke "but we didn't realise she was black".

For those who have spent their life under a cabbage leaf, or have no legal experience, the above statement translates as: "Your version was valid and correct, every word we spoke in court was perjury."