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Folklaw 16 June 2006

Folklaw 16 June 2006

Spooky epistlesWeb site Ananova reports that in Viamao, Brazil, two letters purporting to be from the ghost of a murder victim, and written by a medium, were used to get a defendant off in a…

Spooky epistles

Web site Ananova reports that in Viamao, Brazil, two letters purporting to be from the ghost of a murder victim, and written by a medium, were used to get a defendant off in a murder trial. The letters assured the jury that the 63-year-old Iara Marques Barcelos, accused of the murder of Ercy da Silva Cardoso, was innocent. A jury declared Barcelos not guilty. Apparently the jury accepted the ghostly letters as evidence because the prosecution’s lawyers made no objection. That’s the kind of thing that happens when you doze off on the job.

No erections please

The UK newspaper The Sun reported that a local council planning department was thrown into chaos after the word ‘erection’ was banned from emails. It was included in a list of obscene expressions to be filtered out by software used by Rochdale Council.

Local man Ray Kennedy, 51, sent three emails to the council objecting to a neighbour’s new building extension. The first two were blocked because they included the word erection. The third email slipped through the screening net but by then the neighbour had already got permission for the work to carry on. Sorry, for the erection to proceed.

American retail giant Wal-Mart, which has been in Germany since 1998, ran up against resistance in attempting to introduce a 28-page ethical code that forbids “sexually meaningful communication of any type”. In the US, it seems, rules that govern personal relationships are perfectly acceptable. In Germany, however, they are verboten.

The code in question had stipulated: “You may not go out with or have a relationship with someone who could influence your employment situation or whose employment situation you could influence”. But the Wuppertal industrial tribunal and the regional industrial tribunal in Dusseldorf held that such rules were incompatible with German labour laws.

In other news from Germany, however, whingeing is one thing that companies there are allowed to forbid. According to web site Ananova, employees at IT company Nutzwerk Ltd in Leipzig have agreed to be in a good mood every day as part of their employment contract. Manager Thomas Kuwatsch said those who get up on the wrong side of the bed should stay at home and work out their grumpiness rather than come into work. But, he warned, those taking too much time off for bad moods would face the sack.

The company made the ban on moaning and grumpiness at work official after one female employee refused to subscribe to the company’s general philosophy of always smiling. “Mood is an important factor in productivity and everyone here works hard and is happy,” said Kuwatsch.

Under German law, it seems, employment contracts can cover just about anything, and Folklaw can’t help but wonder whether WorkChoices regulations allow for specifying no grumpiness.

Best country for settlements

Great Britain’s divorce rate may rise even higher, following several rulings by the House of Lords in late May 2006. In one case, a woman who divorced a fund manager worth $60 million was awarded $9.4 million. If you’re thinking of divorcing, you might want to relocate to England. Folklaw warns, however, that a bit of preparation might be needed. To initiate divorce proceedings in England and Wales, one needs to regularly live in the country for a year.

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