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John's guidelines for Accounting Web question

Query about English Law reference

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John

Does the reference in the guidelines you have posted up to "English Law "refer to answers/comments to questions needing to be  framed in English Law terms or does it mean that the law of libel etc being applied re said comments will be based upon English Law? (We do not have libel in Scotland as such, merely defamation)

My knowledge of English law is not great (picked a little up from my father) but I have only ever passed law exams based on Scots Law and there are a fair few areas like confirmation,succession, trust law, partnership law, contract law which vary from those applicable down south.

Perhaps you could clarify.

(Have posted here as your guidance post re asking questions does not permit comment)

 

Replies (17)

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By paul.benny
14th Aug 2020 11:46

Good points

May I also suggest that the guide be a sticky at the top of the forum.

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Replying to paul.benny:
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By Paul Crowley
14th Aug 2020 11:57

Agree
With no replies it will be invisible within 24 hours

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
Richard Hattersley
By Richard Hattersley
14th Aug 2020 12:04

Hi everyone.

The Any Answers guide is in the editor's choice box at the top of the forum and it will remain there.

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FirstTab
By FirstTab
14th Aug 2020 18:43

DKJL. the message is very clear - it what it is. NO discussion.

Most of the points are fair. It is the closed thread in a FORUM that is concerning.

It is a privately-owned site. Their rules are to be obeyed not argued or discussed.

Please forgive me, John, for even making a point. Please do not put a temporary ban on me.

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Replying to FirstTab:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
15th Aug 2020 14:26

FirstTab, the messsage is not clear, if it were clear I would not have queried the intention.

The sentence used was,

"Members are free to express their opinions within the boundaries of English law and decent and appropriate behaviour. "

If this is intended to mean answers are to consider the strictures of English Law re their tone and how they are answered (rather than their content) then the sentence is of poor construction, I would suggest after "law" the word "and" ought to be replaced by say the word "using" to make that meaning clear.

If on the other hand it is actually two subjects within one statement, one re content relating to giving answers which accord with English Law and the other wishing these to be made in a decent and appropriate way then the use of "and" as a conjunction is correct albeit somewhat clumsy.

I do suspect the former reading is correct, I do however seek clarification, hence my question.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By Tax Dragon
17th Aug 2020 09:49

Use a bit of common sense. The guidance is not (is it?) a legal document (for example, the statement about questions "can" range from this to that via the other is not setting limits, but providing examples of John's favourite questions).

The site Ts & Cs (https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/terms-and-conditions-of-use) state that replies must comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted; also that replies must not advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act - so (I would say) suggesting actions that are tantamount to tax evasion, for example, ought to get your contribution deleted and you potentially kicked off.

So... both your interpretations of the guidance seem valid to me, and both (I suspect) are intended.

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By Tax Dragon
17th Aug 2020 09:51

Tax Dragon wrote:

The guidance is not (is it?) a legal document.

It better not be anyway; I don't want my previous comment being construed as giving legal advice!

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Oaklea
By Chris.Mann
14th Aug 2020 23:03

I must have missed something here?

Does anyone have any background to the Editor’s recent display of petulance?

As I understood the situation, we were all getting on rather well, observing fair play, some more members had cleared off (understandably) and others, like me, were quivering behind our desks, awaiting either a temporary, or permanent ban.

Did someone get taken short, or similar? Do tell? Or, is this yet another symptom of Covid-19?

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Replying to Chris.Mann:
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By Mr_awol
15th Aug 2020 23:17

Chris.Mann wrote:

Does anyone have any background to the Editor’s recent display of petulance?

As I recall it, there was a ‘new broom’ post in which the interim editor in chief spelled out their vision for the site. This was met with some disagreement, some disbelief, some support, and was generally ignored having been given the level of respect it probably deserved.

Then John got all aggressive with his ban hammer and sought to assert his authority. This led to the loss of some posters, and led to several others considering their position. It was tense for a while but John (rather sensibly IMHO) kept his head down and things drifted back towards normal. Or the slightly new normal I guess.

Now John has inevitably resurfaced with his post about the rules. He has stymied any opposition by locking the post to comment. He has repeated his interpretation of some of the site’s rules and purposes, and sought to make them fact by preventing any questioning or correction of his views.

This very thread was locked with no answer to DJKL’s actual question. Whether this is because it was felt the question was unworthy, disingenuous, or whether there was a mistaken belief that the question was answered I couldn’t say.

The locking of this thread, following on from the original obstruction to discussion on the ‘new’ rules imposed by John, is of course the reason for my ramblings of Friday afternoon. I have asked a fairly direct question in that thread (albeit in an indirect way).

I personally would appreciate some honesty over the purpose of the forum and its target market. When registering an account it clearly says one of the benefits is to join “fellow” accountants on any answers. John says it’s never been just for accountants and certainly isn’t now. Ignoring, for a moment what makes an ‘accountant’ (qualified and QBE, practice and industry - all apply in my eyes even if not necessarily equally) it seems pretty clear to me that freeloaders are not (at least in as far as the sign up process says) the intended user base. John says that they are just as welcome as the rest of us, and rather than complaining we should just #BeKind

Is John innocently mistaken? Is he dishonestly trying to pretend it’s always been the case when it actually never was? Is item six in the sign-up process actually an error that should never have been there and therefore John is right and the site needs correcting? Enquiring minds want to know

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Replying to Mr_awol:
Oaklea
By Chris.Mann
15th Aug 2020 22:52

Looking from the outside in, recent events appear to have the hallmark, of the proverbial sledgehammer, to crack the (very) small nut. The (interim) editor in chief, ruffles some feathers, acts like a dictator (there is no debate) and closes a potential thread, without further discussion?

It will be interesting to see how long a run, this “one-man” show, has? Whilst I don’t envy the editorial team’s responsibilities, surely any disagreements, could and should have been dealt with, in a more even handed fashion?

This all seems a very long way from the Aweb forum, which I remember, I’m sad to say. However, as I’ve said before, John is always right. Of that, there is no argument.

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By johnhemming
15th Aug 2020 19:30

The Defamation Act 2013 is English and Welsh.

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Replying to johnhemming:
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By Mr_awol
15th Aug 2020 21:55

johnhemming wrote:

The Defamation Act 2013 is English and Welsh.


Does that means we can ‘defame’ those north of the border freely without repercussion, or that actually they can slate us as much as they like with impunity and we can’t retaliate for fear of being locked in the chokey? I’m not that worried - even when sticking to the facts it’s a bit like shooting fish in a barrel so we should have plenty to his them with. I’d just appreciate some clarification......
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Replying to Mr_awol:
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By johnhemming
16th Aug 2020 09:30

Mr_awol wrote:
Does that means we can ‘defame’ those north of the border freely without repercussion, or that actually they can slate us as much as they like with impunity and we can’t retaliate for fear of being locked in the chokey?

nope.
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By Paul Crowley
18th Aug 2020 05:36

All this nonsense started with Fr4nkie wanting to find someone to agree that the uk tax system SEISS was unfair if he submitted a tax return knowingly understating estimated profits to minimise tax payable and despite having time to correct failed to do so quickly enough for SEISS
He got zero sympathy and deservedly so. Rather than accept that nobody was going to agree he kept wittering on to the point of exasperating all responders and then went to the mods like all snowflakes do.
My opinion is that he was looking to copy to client and his MP that we all thought how unfair the system was, but got no agreement.
BUT he was clearly an accountant with clients

Probably concerned about a possible PII claim and looking for any help he could get

When we move over to 'civilians' then most do not have the capability to ask a question that can be effectively replied to because they cannot ask a question with sufficient information to get a reply. Just look at BIK Confusion as an example. 48 replies and still not capable of a complete reply. 'Foresic questioning' still failed despite lots of responders really trying hard to help.

Based on prior comments from the top perhaps Any questions needs to be renamed Any Questions from accountants to accountants

Edit
Now 61 replies, and still no solution on BIK Confusion

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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
19th Aug 2020 09:07

Sorry for the delay in coming back, but those who pointed to the site's terms and conditions and cited the Defamation Act 2013 have touched on the main points defining the site's legal limits. The Computer Misuse Act 1990, Data Protection Act 2018 and Copyright Act 1988 also come into play.

https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/terms-and-conditions-of-use

For convenience, these terms and conditions set out the following restrictions, many of which are proscribed by the laws mentioned above [slight edit in answer to DJKL's post below]:

Contributions must not:
- Contain any material which is defamatory of any person;
- Contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory;
- Promote sexually explicit material;
- Promote violence;
- Promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age;
- Infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person.
- Be likely to deceive any person;
- Be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence;
- Promote any illegal activity;
- Be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety;
- Be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person;
- Be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person;
- Give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case;
- Advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

The How to use Any Answers post was less of a petulant diktat from me than a response to a sensible suggestion from a member to pull together points of general advice and guidance on standards of behaviour that were strewn around different threads into a single reference point. We didn't want that guide to be confused by further nit-picking on the subsequent thread, but there is no ban on discussing the points raised, as you have done in this thread.

Thank you all for coming to DKJL's assistance in my absence. To answer the specific query, defamation law is drawn from common law precedents, but there is a Defamation and Malicious Publication (Scotland) Bill on the agenda at Holyrood to codify these precedents within a formal law. Don't ask me for all the detailed statutes just yet, or when it is likely to be enacted.

As a general principle, use your common sense and try to behave when posting on AccountingWEB as you would in a professional, business setting.

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Replying to John Stokdyk:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
19th Aug 2020 10:20

John, thanks for confirming your English Law reference is in regard to actions arising from what is posted being subject to English Law vis a vis defamation or similar rather than merely being guidance that content requires to follow English Law.

I actually suspect that it is not strictly the case that English Law, merely by dint of statements made by the site's owners, applies where one has a website hosted in say England but contributors, who possibly might be defamed, in multiple jurisdictions, I suspect the parties bringing action might well have the right to raise same in multiple jurisdictions; then again maybe that is a question for LegalWeb.

This article from Ireland touches on some of the issues albeit given our exit from the EU and our likely leaving the ambit of the ECJ going forward maybe not a lot can be read into its conclusions regarding jurisdiction.

https://www.matheson.com/news-and-insights/article/court-considers-inter...

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Replying to John Stokdyk:
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By johnhemming
19th Aug 2020 11:35

The likelihood is that if someone is defamed on this site they would have a cause of action in both England and Wales and Scotland (England and Wales being a jurisdiction).

The Defamation Act 2013 gives the site quite a bit of protection for comments which are user generated. I don't know the position in respect of Scottish Law. The Defamation Act 2013 also codified quite a bit in terms of English and Welsh law - which still has a lot of common law, however.

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