Volume 49 - December 2010
Legal cartoon, Paul Brennan, christmas


This month:

  • New - Free legal screensaver
  • Interview on Sunrise
  • Accountants have fun too
  • New - Legal Cartoon App use extended to Microsoft Powerpoint(R) presentations


Paul Brennan


Author of The Law is an Ass...Make Sure it Doesn't Bite Yours!


 Advice to Bill Gates

Legal cartoon, end of billiable hours, Paul BrennanRecently, I was asked to appear on Channel 7’s “Sunrise” breakfast show to talk about Bill Gates who had decided not to leave most of his $56B to his three children.  Could they challenge the will?

Here is what I wanted to say:

In Australia and most of the rest of the world, there are three ways that such children would be advised to challenge the will:

  • That your Dad is nuts.  This is increasingly popular. 
  • That you are still dependant on your parents.  This seems to work at any age, your parents never seem to make adequate provision.
  • That your Dad’s lawyers messed up the terms of the will.  This is an argument that we understandably, try to discourage.

Allegations of frequent loss of car keys, forgetting names and having no idea of where a car is parked are dismissed by most judges as normal behaviour.  However, I suspect that trying to convince any judge that someone who gives away as much money as Bill Gates is entirely rational would be an uphill struggle, especially if he tried to maintain that his wife encouraged him to do so.  I sometimes feel like a walking financial provision application myself.

Claims against rich people alive or dead have always been fairly common as long as I can remember and like Tiger Woods you never know what is coming out of the rough.

What is adequate provision?   Well, $56B would do it but anything less may be the subject of a challenge.  

I suspect Mr Gate’s children would prefer the whole inheritance neatly divided three ways as most of us do.

Rather than leave my own children locked in expensive and divisive litigation I have decided to take the advice I normally give to my own clients and spend it before I go.  I shall leave a note explaining that it was for their own good. 

Click here for what I managed to say:  

Sunrise, Paul Brennan, wills  



Click here for other ill-fated TV appearancesVideo clip Lending Money Paul Brennan






(c) Paul Brennan 2010. All rights reserved.

Legal cartoon, dead sea scrolls, Paul BrennanContracts don't sweat the small stuff 


Up to about $500 most people can manage to accept that they entered into a bad deal.  With the addition of every zero this becomes more difficult.  I am not saying that people deliberately lie but it just seems that the parties to a contract dispute will divide like two football teams depending on which side their bread is buttered.  Respective families and friends act as crazed supporters.  The other side is demonized as Nazis.

Where there is no written contract the goal posts shift so that the dispute takes on a “yes it is, no it isn’t” feel with the alleged facts aligning behind both sides to support their respective arguments.  This is nothing new and judges decided early on that frequent disputes were “doing their head in” and insisted that some contracts needed to be in writing to try to provide some certainty for instance, guarantees and contracts for the sale of land.

So if the contract wording is clear and unambiguous, it stands unless it is absurd or you have been misled even if you intended something else and the judge knows it.  Judges are not allowed to look at the surrounding circumstances which show how wrong it is and must take a blinkered approach.  So lawyers normally put a small preamble in the contract to try and explain what the parties intended to do, just in case they mess it up.  Also, lawyers put in an "entire contract" clause to ensure that no one says that the written document is only part of the contract.

Some modern judges will desperately and irritatingly (depending on which side you are on) seek ambiguity rather than apply a just and certain, albeit unfair ruling.

It is best to have your lawyer draw up important contracts as at least you can blame him (or to be politically correct – her) if it turns sour. 

© Paul Brennan 2010.  All rights reserved.


Paul Brennan is a business and property lawyer on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.  Both  "Deals and disputes".

Accountants have sense of humour – shock….lawyers make them laugh

Paul Brennan, legal cartoon, accountantAfter years, of receiving polite applause or even stunned silence to mark the end of my legal presentations, I was surprised to receive the following testimonial:

“From our members feedback - Interactive, informative, interesting, dynamic, entertaining, enthusiastic, started at 1350AD and kept moving, no slides, kept us awake and felt dizzy - it makes it difficult to believe that this was a presentation on Intellectual Property law” 

Institute of Chartered Accountants

If I had to put this positive feedback down to any one thing I would say it was - free grog.  As in the early days of the Navy, accountants are press ganged into attending continuing legal education and given free alcohol to make it bearable.    On the evening of my legal presentation, no one fell out of the rigging but such was the joyous atmosphere, I think that they are making a big mistake conducting their accountancy practices sober.

The biggest laugh of the evening was when I showed them my cash flow forecast.

 (c) Paul Brennan 2010. All rights reserved.

Click here for information about booking Paul as a speaker or MC including a clip of him in action.

New - Free Law & Disorder Screensavers

Legal cartoon, skeleton, Paul B rennan

If you are fitness obsessed and/or work in property law, litigation, at the bar or are a normal lawyer. 

Click here to download a free legal screensaver to suit you





Christmas gifts

If you want to buy something for the lawyer or would be lawyer in your life or you know someone who works in the law then click here to visit our shop.

Legal Cartoon App

Legal Cartoon App, Paul Brennan

Thank you to all those who have downloaded the App.  For Law & Disorder subscribers, use is now extended to Powerpoint and other slideshows.

Click here for more information.

See exceptional international speaker Robyn Pulman:

Buderim - Thursday 2 December 2010 7.00am for 7.15am.


The content of the Law & Disorder eZine is to give you legal basics and in some instances included unashamedly to try and make you laugh.  In law it is sometimes difficult to work out what is serious and what is just for fun.  Therefore, if you plan to do anything legal, rely on your own lawyer’s advice or instruct me to look at the particular facts of your case.  Not only will I deny responsibility for the legal content but also for some of the jokes.

In this Issue
Advice to Bill Gates about money and his children
Challenging a contract

Accountants have sense of humour - shock

New - free legal screensaver


Forward to a Colleague


The Law & Disorder eZine attempts to provide legal information in an entertaining and amusing manner to help clients avoid predictable legal issues.

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