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Volume 32 - JULY 2009

This month we:

  • Tell you how to kill your cat.
  • Warn of the dangers of small print.
  • Wonder why banks produce so much paper.
  • Advise on cutting your spouse out of your will.


Paul Brennan


John Fytit’s International Problem Page

- Your Legal problems shared

Legal cartoon law lawyer attorney trade mark IP  Paul BrennanDear John


Despite having a cat door, every night, my cat wakes me up wanting to be let in and out or vice versa.  My sleep is being severely disturbed.   Is it illegal to kill a cat?


H.M. Dublin, Eire

Dear H.M

Cats do not have nine lives.  This old adage is a reference to failed assassination attempts by their owners, so you are not alone.  My own cat has a permanent scowl.


Your cat is your property and you can kill it, provided it is not done in a cruel manner.  For instance, drowning in a bucket although quick, may be prohibited as an extreme form of water boarding.  Even a pillow placed gently over the face after it has dozed for 20 hours straight in its favourite chair may be considered cruel in the cold light of the court room.


Therefore, it is best left to your Vet.  But, most Vets, not all, are animal lovers and treat requests for execution of a healthy albeit malevolent animal as motivated by cruel intent and therefore illegal.


This is why many regimes, when dealing with subversives, use “trumped up” charges.  As the Vet’s determination is behind closed doors with no witnesses, no investigation and no appeal, accusations of attacks on pregnant mothers, babies, widows or, as a last resort, puppies should work fairly well.  As many cats have a night life that Hannibal Lechter would be proud of, the Vet should be easily convinced that he is dealing with an enemy of the state and any delay on his part may result in a law suit against him by one of the victims.


But, your cat’s untimely death may not improve your sleep.  Guilt may weigh upon you as it did with Lady Macbeth.  Alternatively, your small triumph may result in you turning on other members of your family who are even more irritating.


If you have reached an age where you find that your only nemesis is your cat it probably means that you should get out more.  At least, that is my plan.



(c)Paul Brennan 2009. 

John Fytit is the name of the central cartoon charter in Law & Disorder cartoons which started in Hong Kong in 1992.  He is from the fictitious Hong Kong firm Fytit & Loos (pronounced “Fight it and Lose”).  A very unsuccessful name as people read “Fytit” as “Fit it”.  The International Problem Page started in 2005 and was merged into Paul Brennan’s blog.  But, not before John Fytit started to receive real legal questions from various parts of the world.

For further extracts from John Fytit’s International Problem Page go to Paul’s blog by clicking here 101 Reasons to Kill All the Lawyers. 

The small print-how bad can it be?

Example 1: Indemnities


legal cartoon, accountant, lawyer, solicitor, attorney, Paul BrennanHave you ever wondered what the difference is between a guarantee and an indemnity in an agreement?  No.  Ok then, I will make this quick.

A guarantee is a promise to be responsible for another's debt or contractual performance.  It is the sort of thing that parents are asked to do when their adult children obtain a bank loan or more usually several bank loans.

An indemnity is a promise to basically insure someone if an adverse event happens.  Insurance companies do it for say fire and theft.

An indemnity can be a real bonus or a bombshell, depending on which side you are on.

Here are two examples:

  1. You move to bigger office premises and someone else takes over your lease. An indemnity allows the landlord to come after you if the new tenant doesn’t pay or goes bust. 
  2. Unbeknown to his wife, your accountant has a secret life involving fast cars, woman, gambling and drunkenness.  You sell the story to a newspaper.  Understandably, you are wrong.  If you have an indemnity from the newspaper they will pay all your damages and the costs of the defamation action.  If not, you are stuffed.

With a bit of imagination you can get people to indemnify you for all sorts of unlikely consequences of a contract.  This is very useful as there is always some nutcase out there (no offence to any readers) who may just add you to a court action as a scatter gun tactic. 

Indemnities are quite common in agreements for say selling shares or a business, or when you assign intellectual property (IP).  But, usually the event indemnified does not happen so no one takes any notice.

How often would lawyers sneakily stick an indemnity into an otherwise innocent agreement?  Answer: all the time if they think that it will give their client an edge if something unexpectedly goes wrong.

© Paul Brennan 2009. 

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I have a dream

- Bank disclosure

legal cartoons, wills, lawyers, attorney, retirement homes, Paul BrennanBanks give us truck loads of paper all in the name of telling us what we are signing up to. 

Even if we read it most of us would still have a hazy idea of credit card terms, loan terms and bank fees. 

Before clients sign loan documents banks insist that their customer's lawyer explains what it means.   Banks do this as they think that judges deliberately let off supposedly confused little old ladies who say that they did not know what they were signing.  Heaven forbid.

I object to banks wasting paper, my time and their customer's money in this way, but I have a dream.

I have a dream that one day a bank's disclosure documents will be judged on their capacity to be easily understood by all God’s children and not on the weight of the paper provided.

I have a dream that one day even the legal departments of banks, sweltering with the heat of verbosity, will be transformed into an oasis of brevity.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a world where banks do not insist that I need to pay a lawyer to be told what will happen if I guarantee their loans and they default.

I have a dream today!

And when this happens, when bank disclosure documents are just one A4 page saying “You and your guarantors will be pursued into hell if you do not pay up” trees will be saved, lawyers will be released from telling people the obvious and be able to join hands with the bank clerks who prepare this boring paperwork and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

 © Paul Brennan 2009

Click here to see and read the speech "I have a dream" by Martin Luther King Jr.

Leaving your spouse out of your will

legal cartoon, lawyer, attorney, testimonial, Paul BrennanDear John


My spouse is devoted to me but I worry that in grief at my death, my spouse will fall easy prey to some fortune hunter.  Of course, I would not begrudge some happiness after my passing but what if my spouse dies and leaves everything to this chancer’s children?



Southend, UK


Dear P.M.


Whether you have worked hard to earn it, had the good fortune to have someone leave it to you, or just spent the last 40 years bored witless watching your spouse amass it, your concern is understandable.


We all from time to time consider leaving our money directly to our children expecting our spouses to understand.  They generally don’t.  In fact, they expect the children to see sense and renounce their windfall whereas your children naturally decide to respect your wishes.


If you adopt this strategy there are risks:

  • You can expect your spouse to sue the estate.  Such cases often settle but only after acrimonious affidavits full of accusations about your sanity, bad temper and slovenly habits.  Fortunately, this is all done in confidence, it is not as if your neighbours and friends get to read the unpleasant detail, unless of course they are called as witnesses.
  • I would suggest that you make your own funeral arrangements just in case your spouse decides to cut a few corners.
  • Above all, you must not allow your spouse to know of your intentions in case they decide to do the same thing.  Whereas they need to be saved from themselves you probably feel that you can be trusted to leave the money to your kids unless of course they marry unwisely or forget to call you on your birthday.


To look on the bright side, you are usually long gone before the fighting starts.  But, if you cannot stand to have your memory besmirched in this manner but still fear your money ending up with the wrong person there really is only one option: don’t go.


I hope this helps.



Extract from John Fytit’s International Problem Page. (c) Paul Brennan 2009.

Click here for the eBook "The Legal Guide toDying...Baby Boomer Edition" and other publications by Paul Brennan


In this Issue
How to kill your cat
Dangerous small print: Indemnities
I have a dream: Bank disclosure

Your spouse and your money


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