Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Friday June 18th 2021 Edition 62

Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and e-vents from the legal world

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

– SOMEWHERE FAR AWAY

Best to Look Away Now

Whether it be this evening’s England v. Scotland at Wembley or the decision to postpone the Covid lockdown, most people on this island have better things to think about right now than the instability of devolution in N. Ireland. Yet the chaos in Stormont in the past 48 hours illustrates how vulnerable democracy and the rule of law are within this part of the UK. It is no coincidence then that a group of human rights NGOs, academics and lawyers has warned that new ‘legacy’ proposals from the UK government relating to the actions of British soldiers during the Troubles  “would breach both international law and the domestic Human Rights Act, deliver impunity, bury truth recovery and fundamentally undermine the rule of law”.

The concern is that the legacy bill proposed in the recent Queen’s Speech, “Departs unilaterally from an existing agreement with the Irish government and local political parties.” No-one would suggest that bringing harmony to N. Ireland is easy but this year – the centenary anniversary of partition – underscores how just difficult it is. Combined with the row about the post-Brexit ‘protocol’ agreement one has to wonder whether the rule of law still has much currency on that side of the water.

But, lets be honest, who cares?

The LegalDiarist

In this Week’s Edition

+ LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

– A&O Backs Women in Institutional Investors

– Sustainability is Crucial in a post-pandemic world in Bird & Bird report

– Sports Injuries: It’s Dangerous Out There

– SLAPPS Not Claps for Human Rights Defenders

THIS WEEK’S MEDLEY OF QUICK COMMENTS on mandatory jabs, the Manchester Arena Bombing Inquiry, the Infected Blood Inquiry and extensions to protection from evictions and statutory demands

LEGAL CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK The ramifications of the great Post Office scandal

LEGAL QUESTION OF THE WEEKThe NHS Digital Database – What are the Privacy Challenges?

APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK at Pillsbury and Thomson Snell & Passmore

E-VENTS

LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

A&O Backs Women in Institutional Investors

Getting results on levelling up?

“Our vision is to create a platform for women to share knowledge, network, and find mentoring opportunities,” comments MaameYaa Kwafo-Akoto of Allen & Overy who is now the lead partner for the firm’s new forum for aspiring women in the global institutional investor market.

The Institutional Investor Forum is part of A&O’s wider Gender Equality Network and will offer a series of virtual and in-person events and networking opportunities for women based in financial centres across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America.

Membership will be open to women at a range of institutional investor organisations including asset managers, development finance institutions, family offices, government agencies and so on in both the public and private sectors. And the benefits, the firm points out, will include practical advice by industry-leading coaches, panel discussions on female advancement plus mentoring and networking.

The infinitive highlights that only around one-fifth of senior positions in the sector are occupied by women. “We want to help talented and ambitious women progress by giving them the confidence to be decision-makers, the ability to thrive in male dominated industries, and ultimately help them to reach personal goals,” says the firm adding that this is “regardless of whether you know us or instruct A&O, because it’s the right thing to do.”

For more information on how to join the Institutional Investor Forum contact InstitutionalInvestorForum@allenovery.com.

Sustainability is Crucial in a post-pandemic world

Sustainability is now core to the business strategy of many industry leaders with a growing number of organisations getting involved and shaping sustainability strategies to achieve measurable goals. This is the key message which emerges from a new report by technology-focused law firm Bird & Bird and its consultancy arm OXYGY.

Back in the Spring, Bird & Bird asked 110 clients in luxury, fashion & retail, food & beverage, and hotels, hospitality & leisure across a number of international markets to provide their perspective on a range of sustainability-related topics.

With Bird & Bird’s focus on disruption and innovation, we were keen to understand how our clients are addressing one of the most important issues to date: sustainability,” said Graeme Payne, head of the international Retail & Consumer sector group. “One key finding from the survey that struck us was that more than a third of respondents said sustainability increased in importance in the last year, an outcome that was already underway but accelerated by the pandemic.”

Among the conclusions were that

  • Retail and consumer companies whose sustainability strategy is further advanced than their competitors are 2.4 times more likely to see sustainability as being a significant driver of innovation.
  • They are also three times more likely to see collaboration as extremely important.
  • One third of respondents said sustainability increased in importance in the last year
  • Nearly 80% of all respondents reported that “finding innovative ways to collaborate externally (competitors and partners) is important or extremely important to achieving their sustainability strategies. .

Significantly, the personal ambitions of employees are more advanced than their companies with most respondents (60%) interested in being more involved in sustainability efforts in their companies.

Sports Injuries: It’s Dangerous Out There

As Danish footballer’s Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest at the Euros revealed, football can be a major health risk even to those who appear to be super fit.Whether Eriksen can resume his career remains to be seen. The experience of others who have suffered the same episode is not encouraging. So the financial consequences for a world-class player could be momentous.

But an injury on the field even for less well-known players can be just as devastating as the case this week of Leicester City Women’s Football Club player, Mercedes White illustrates. At age 22 Mercedes White, suffered a severe knee injury during a match. Two months following her injury and with no signs of improvement, she was referred to Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, and had reconstruction surgery for a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and meniscal tear. It took a year before she could return to the game but within minutes of resuming her knee gave way leaving her in agony. Subsequent investigation showed that the ligament had been mispositioned and it took a further year before White could once more kick a ball in a competitive way.

The case was taken up by personal injury specialist Pryers Solicitors who have just achieved a £22,000 settlement for White from the Trusts. It has been a painstaking task. “Leicester City Women’s Football Club is one of the higher leagues of women’s football and Mercedes White is a professional footballer,” said Tamlin Bolton. “Anything that keeps Ms White off the pitch ought to be addressed by specialist doctors, physiotherapists and solicitors.” Whether the pay-out is commensurate with the damage done is probably a matter for the Video Assistant Referee.

SLAPPS Not Claps for Human Rights Defenders

Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) are being increasingly used by ‘powerful entities’ to marginalise their critics according to the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. The charge is that the legal system is being used to silence human rights defenders and communities who speak out against corporate abuse to protect our rights and shared environment. “Mining, agribusiness, logging and palm oil were the sectors where these types of lawsuits were most commonly used to drain the resources of those who speak out in support of human rights and the environment,” says the Centre which cites more than 350 cases since 2015 of ‘business actors’using this tactic to intimidate and bankrupt their critics.  

The key findings of the report were that

  • SLAPPs are expensive for Human Rights Defenders (HRDs). The amount of damages sought by those filing SLAPPs in just 82 of the cases totalled to over 1.5 billion USD (information on damages sought was not available for the remaining cases).  
  • Most SLAPPs (304) were brought against individuals, as opposed to organisations (38), underscoring the intimidating nature of the tactic. [Both individuals and organisations were SLAPPed in 13 cases.]  
  • SLAPPs are usually groundless and vexatious in nature. Of the cases for which we could find outcomes, more than four in five alleged SLAPPs were dismissed, dropped or ruled in favour of defendant. 
  • The highest number of alleged SLAPPs occurred in Latin America (39%); Asia was not far behind (25%). There were also high numbers of SLAPPs recorded in France.
  • Lady Nancy Zuluaga JaramilloLegal Researcher, Human Rights Defenders & Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation at the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, commented, “What we have recorded is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg in what is essentially a direct attack on freedom of expression and the legitimate defence of human rights and the environment. Although civil society and human rights defenders have started pushing back against the use of SLAPPs, there is an urgent need for companies, investors and the legal community to step in.”  

THIS WEEK’S MEDLEY OF QUICK COMMENTS

TOPIC: On mandatory jabs for careworkers…

Care together, jab together? Image courtesy of Unison

No jab, no job’ could be a dangerous approach for employers to take. There is not enough evidence to suggest taking the vaccine makes everyone’s working environment safe. If an employer tries to force their employees to receive the jab or decides not to hire someone based on their refusal to get the jab, it could result in employment claims, for unfair dismissal and/or discrimination.

 However, in circumstances where a person is working in the healthcare sector, or with vulnerable children and adults, and refuses to get the vaccine, there may well be more validity to the request by the employer for vaccinations. This will be made more complicated when the government introduce mandatory vaccinations for care workers, as there will be questions raised over how to define a ‘care’ worker, to determine who would fall within the scope of this new policy. The introduction of the mandatory jab, could give employers more flexibility in implementing a workplace vaccination policy. 

Kate Hindmarch, partner in Employment Law at Langleys Solicitors

TOPIC: On the Publication of the Manchester Arena Public Inquiry and Volume One of the recommendations.

Today we welcome the publication of Volume One of the Chair’s report in the Manchester Arena Inquiry. There has been a rigorous and thorough investigation by the Chair, with examination of a substantial volume of complex evidence.  It is clear that he has taken the submissions of the families on board and has kept them at the heart of the process.

The failure to detect Salman Abedi in the City Room was a result of serious and unacceptable breaches which the Chair has rightly identified.  Put simply, a number of organisations failed to keep the public safe on the night of this terrible attack.  Our specialist Safety practice will continue to work with the Inquiry Legal Team to ensure that the monitored recommendations are implemented and, as in previous inquests into terrorist attacks where we have represented bereaved families, we hope these changes will reduce the likelihood of similar attacks in future.”

Hogan Lovells (which represents a number of the victims’ families)

TOPIC: The Government’s decision to extend until March 2022 the ban on evictions of businesses that stopped paying rent due to the coronavirus crisis

Whilst we must strike a balance between tenants and landlords, kicking the can down the road yet again is not solving the problem. If the parties cannot agree now, they will not change their minds in six months when yet further arrears have accrued and more pain will be felt all around.

“We have a specialist court – the Business and Property Court – full of experienced Judges who deal with business and property matters. They are quick, adaptive and business oriented. Surely a simple and cost effective mechanism can be put together to bring about a resolution or solve the problem, at least for the next 12 months.”

Mark Gardner, Excello Law


TOPIC: The Government’s decision to extend the deadline for the lifting of the restrictions on statutory demands and winding up petitions until 30 September 2021

 “The Government has announced that they intend to further extend the restrictions on the issuing of statutory demands and winding-up petitions to 30 September 2021. 

The move is intended to maintain the protection put in place for companies from aggressive creditor enforcement action, as a consequence of coronavirus related debts. Whilst this announcement may come as welcome relief for many, it further prejudices legitimate creditors by kicking the can down the road and delaying the inevitable insolvency of many so called “zombie companies”, whose debts have spiralled over the course of the past year and who continue to exist without any realistic hope of long term recovery.”

Jonathan Cole, Goodman Derrick LLP 

TOPIC: The Infected Blood Inquiry announcement that it will be hearing evidence from many of the key figures in government in the 1980s who were involved in the disastrous policy which resulted in innumerable deaths and long term serious illness.

Making sure it never happens again

This is a hugely important development for the Inquiry process because these figures are central to our understanding of what went on during the critical period in the 1980s when the Government should have been responding to the AIDS crisis and considering the implications for those receiving blood products. 

 “We believe these individuals did know and appreciate the risks but were slow to act. However, a clear account of who knew what, when and how this impacted decisions made at the time, has never been forthcoming. There has been a lot of buck-passing and hiding behind Government protocol until now. I cannot emphasise enough what a massive moment this is for my clients as, finally, we may begin to get closer to the truth and the heart of the problem which led to the suffering of so many. 

 “It is, of course, only right these key witnesses are called to give evidence and the Inquiry is to be commended for bringing them to the stand. 

Des Collins, Senior Partner at Collins Solicitors, legal advisor to over 1500 people affected by the contaminated blood scandal

LEGAL CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK

The ramifications of the great Post Office scandal – which saw hundreds of Sub-Postmaster convicted of crimes of which they were completely innocent – continue to rumble on (and will do so for many months to come). Here are extracts from a presentation given recently at University College, London by lawyer NICK GOULD of Aria Grace who acted pro bono for three of the victims Janet Skinner, Tracy Felstead and Seema Misra – of the Post Office’s campaign of persecution.

The cheque’s in the post

“Perhaps it’s because during my years in practice I’ve always been a common sense, corporate / deal-doing lawyer, I found trying to help Janet Skinner, Tracy Felstead and Seema Misra over the last 15 months or so, particularly distressing. From when I first heard about this miscarriage of justice, I’ve been disgusted to learn how they and hundreds of others were treated by a dismissive and contemptuous legal system over two decades. No common sense allowed here. I wanted to try and help these extraordinary people, whose lives were destroyed unnecessarily and who are still suffering physical and mental scars decades later—and yes, I know this is not normally what lawyers talk about or what those involved in learning or teaching law, necessarily want to hear. But hear it more lawyers should. It appears that almost the entire legal world has been stunningly silent and found wanting; it still is.

We know Post Office head of security had put in place a protocol for shredding inconvenient documents. That should have raised a huge red flag, but apparently not. What was the direct and awful effect of lawyers and others covering up crucial evidence for years? “

The line pursued by the Post Office had irreparably damaging effects on the innocent victims. One example quitwd by Gould was

Seema Misra, Subpostmistress. “Seema was prosecuted for theft and false accounting by the Post Office in 2010. The judge told her “She had stolen from pensioners.” She was eight weeks pregnant when she was found guilty and imprisoned. She collapsed on sentencing and had to go to hospital. That same day was her elder son’s 10th birthday. She has said many times that had she not been pregnant, she would have considered suicide.”

Quoting a collague, Paul Marshall, who also acted pro bono, Gould said. “The real questions made urgent by the Court of Appeal’s 23 April 2021 judgment are are, on the one hand, who knew what, when, about the Horizon system’s propensity to fail and, on the other, who in the Post Office, in Fujitsu and in the Post Office’s owner – the government – were willing to see people imprisoned and denied justice in a ruthless scheme of deception intended to protect the Post Office brand at almost any cost; a scheme that in a curious fluke of justice has left the brand toxic and possibly valueless.”

LEGAL QUESTION OF THE WEEK

The NHS Digital Database – What are the Privacy Challenges?

By Pulina Whitaker, Partner and Co-Leader of Morgan Lewis’ Privacy & Cybersecurity Practice

‘Eye Spy, what do I see?’ Image courtesy of Heads of State for UCLA Magazine

The Government’s controversial plan to create a database of all GP records over the past 10 years for sharing with third-parties is a challenge to implement from a privacy perspective. The implementation date of the database has been delayed from 1 July until 1 September 2021 to address privacy concerns from the British Medical Association and Royal College of GPs, as well as privacy groups including Foxglove.

The key challenge is that the records will continue to contain personal data, where the identifiers are removed or the data is otherwise “pseudonymised” so it is not directly identifiable but patients can be re-identified with other information. This kind of data is strictly protected by the UK’s implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation and, therefore, NHS Digital will need to comply with key obligations.

At the outset of the collection of GP records, it must provide each patient with a clear privacy notice regarding how the data will be collected from GPs, how it will be used, with whom it will be shared, how it will be protected and give patients certain rights to control their data including request that the processing is restricted or their data is deleted. They must comply with restrictive processing conditions, such as only use the data where necessary for scientific research too.

NHS Digital will also need to allow patients to access a copy of their data and ask for details of how it is being processed after it is transferred to the database. Finally it must require all organisations to protect the data to the same standard as in the UK, including through data transfer agreements where the data is transferred outside the UK or Europe to a country not otherwise deemed to have “adequate” data protection laws.

One of the concerns relates to the commercialisation of health data, where it is shared with commercial health providers around the world and, therefore, potentially creates a loss of control of the patient data for the relevant patient. The UK’s data protection authority, the Information Commissioner, has welcomed to the delay to the plan to allow for privacy concerns to be addressed and build trust with the public, who have until 1 September 2021 to opt-out in advance. The Information Commissioner’s Office has said it will work with NHS Digital to resolve the privacy concerns.

APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK

Pillsbury has appointed Antony Single as a partner in its Asset Finance team in London. Previously he was a partner at Clifford Chance helping to establish the firm’s asset finance practice in the Middle East.

Anthony Single

Single has a broad range of financing and leasing experience including making use of commercial debt, warehouse facilities, capital markets, funds platforms, tax enhanced and Shari’a compliant structured financings. He also has extensive experience of airline restructurings and workouts.

“Much like our seasoned asset finance professionals around the globe, Antony really does it all in this highly-specialized sector,” said Mark Lessard, leader of the firm’s Finance practice. “The fact that he has thrived in both up and down markets was very attractive to the team. Likewise, he brings bona fide accomplishments in the Middle East, where we share many clients and interests.”

Thomson Snell & Passmore has appointed commercial lawyer Poh-Leng Devare as a new Partner in its Corporate and Commercial department. Having trained at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Devare spent six years as in-house Commercial Counsel at Imperial College London before joining YouGov Plc where she was a Senior Commercial Lawyer.

Poh-Leng Devare

Devare’s new new role involves dealing with agreements relating to technology, data and data protection, intellectual property (IP), procurement, agency, distribution, franchising and other commercial contracts.

 Joanne Gallagher, Partner and Head of Corporate and Commercial at Thomson Snell & Passmore comments: “We are delighted to welcome Poh-Leng to the team. She brings with her a wealth of experience and commercial acumen combining both in-house and private practice, which positions her to genuinely understand the business and legal needs of our commercial clients.”

And finally – a pair of mergers

 Wedlake Bell LLP and Moon Beever LLP have agreed to merge with effect from 12 July this year. Martin Arnold, Managing Partner of Wedlake Bell, said,“We are delighted to be joining forces with Moon Beever. The merged firm will enable us to enhance the offering to our clients in some of our core business areas – notably insolvency and restructuring, disputes, commercial property and private client.” The merged firm will bring together 71 Partners and a total complement of 217 lawyers. (The name of the new merged firm has not been revealed).

Axiom Stone Solicitors and DWFM Beckman joined forces on 9 June 2021 to become Axiom DWFM, creating a combined team of almost 150 people, including 19 partners, located across their several offices in London and Birmingham.

The merger will provide clients with access to comprehensive legal advice across Real Estate, Dispute Resolution, Insolvency, Family, Employment, Corporate and Commercial and Private Client & Wealth. accountants and tax advisers. It boasts particular expertise through its India and China desks.

E-VENTS

Panel Discussion: Sharing Stories of being LGBT+ and Minority Ethnic Tuesday 29 June 202113:00 – 14:00 BST

The experience of being a minority within a minority group can bring with it complex challenges. Linklaters is delighted to invite you to discussion featuring panellists from Deloitte, Standard Chartered and our own With Pride Network. The event seeks to educate attendees about the intersection of LGBT+ and Ethnicity through the power of storytelling. 

The discussion will be facilitated by Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, widely known as Lady Phyll. Phyll is the executive director of Kaleidoscope Trust, the charity working to uphold the human rights of LGBT+ people across the Commonwealth. She is also the co-founder and executive director of UK Black Pride, Europe’s largest pride celebration for LGBT+ people of colour. Phyll is an experienced community builder and organiser; an Albert Kennedy Trust patron, and a writer and public speaker focusing on race, gender, sexuality and class.
 
Webinar dial-in detailsDial-in details will be provided upon registration.Please note that all attendees will be automatically muted when joining the webinar. RSVPPlease register for this webinar using the following link
RSVP

We hope that you have enjoyed – and maybe even found useful – this edition of the LEGAL DIARY.

If so, please relay on to colleagues.

Meanwhile, please continue sending news, views, comment and insights to

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Friday June 11th 2021 Edition 61

Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and e-vents from the legal world

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Who are the ‘Unacknowledged Legislators’?

Big on the Agender – Image Courtesy of penguin Books

In the much celebrated words of poet Philip Larkin, sex was invented in Britain in 1963 and ‘Then all at once the quarrel sank/ Everyone felt the same.’

If only that were true, one might say. As the news yesterday demonstrated, issues of sexual abuse, sexting and gender identity stir up an increasing amount of contentious debate. And now the courts are required to step in and try to sort it out – at least up to a point (just as they did with the ‘Lady Chatterley’ trial which features in the Larkin poem). As Monica Kurnatowska, Employment partner at Baker McKenzie, observed regarding the decision in yesterday’s Maya Forstater EAT case. “This ruling  means that individuals are entitled not to be discriminated against because of gender critical beliefs and gives those beliefs the same legal protection as religious beliefs, environmental beliefs and ethical veganism.”

So beliefs – thought-crime, as some might see them – will be tolerated. But how those are beliefs may be manifested without offending the law is now the tricky area – and yet to be resolved in the Forstater case. “Employers will be watching closely for any guidance on how to handle employee conflict fairly and lawfully, while respecting the rights of all involved,” commented Monica Kurnatowska. Sadly the need to resort to law is a sign of growing social breakdown. If only it could be solved with a book of etiquette – or, better, a book of poetry.

The LegalDiarist

In this week’s edition

+ LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

– Irwin Mitchell Appointed Legal Cox to British Rowing

– Building Better This Way with BDB’s new E-magazine

– The Forgotten Song of Clyde & Co

– IP Crime Reaches Top Ten

+ EXPERT COMMENTS OF THE WEEK: THE LAW DELAYED IS DIVORCE DENIED

+ LEGAL THINKING OF THE WEEK – CHANEL CROSSING Where’s the dividing line between luxury item and commodity product? considers Flavia Ștefura, Senior Associate, MPR Partners

+ LEGAL INSIGHT OF THE WEEK WHAT IS THE ‘GLOBAL MINIMUM TAX RATE’ AND WILL IT HAPPEN?

ask Ian Borman and James N. Mastracchio of Winston & Strawn

+ LEGAL REVIEW OF THE WEEK – WHEN BUSINESSES GO WRONG The Insolvency Service’s new approach could hurt all company directors of Dissolved Companies argues Steve Thomas

APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK

with JMW Solicitors and Harneys

E-VENTS from Harvard, the Bingham Centre and ThoughtLeaders

LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

Irwin Mitchell Appointed Legal Cox to British Rowing

With the Olympics just a few weeks away (oh, yes they are! oh no they’re not!) Irwin Mitchell has been announced as the Official Legal Partner to British Rowing. And its brief is not just to support the organisation’s legal work but also to help it deliver on its commitment to becoming more diverse.

Diversifying this crew? Photo Nick Middleton

It’s a big job.  The three-year deal will see Irwin Mitchell working in partnership with British Rowing’s in-house legal team plus its 530 clubs, 200+ events and 30,000 members to support their legal needs. These include IP and data protection, commercial advisory, risk management and disputes, employment, safeguarding and sponsorship.

 As is well known, the Brits are rather good at sports which involve sitting down on the water so the last 35 years has been marked by rowing as one of GB’s most successful Olympic events. And Irwin Mitchell will be supporting British Rowing to ensure that record continues. “With a proud history of working alongside sporting governing bodies both here and abroad, we’re very excited to be working with British Rowing to help them achieve their future aims and vision of representing a modern, diverse, British society,” said Hannah Clipston, partner and specialist sports lawyer at Irwin Mitchell

For British Rowing Andy Parkinson, the CEO, said, “We’re delighted to welcome Irwin Mitchell as our official legal partner and we’re excited at the potential this partnership has to deliver tangible change – not only to our affiliated clubs and members, but also with respect to our ongoing work in making rowing an inclusive and diverse sport that welcomes and has an offer for everyone.”

Building Better This Way

Its

It’s a cover story

Congratulations to BDB Pitmans for producing a great new e-magazine. Under the title Building Better it comes across strongly with a vivid and highly contemporary take on the role of law by, as it says, ‘highlighting the issues that matter – whether it’s climate change, ethical business, ground-breaking technology or the latest market trends.’

  The current edition includes articles on anti-slavery campaigning company Tony Chocolonely (which is working towards 100% slave-free product), what we can expect from the Covid-19 inquiry plus what’s required from retailers to inspire areturn to the high street. Worthwhile having a look.

Here’sthe link  https://www.bdbpitmans.com/building-better-magazine/?utm_source=Vuture&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Building%20Better%20Magazine%204%20June%202021

The (Forgotten) Song of the Clyde

The advance of women into senior positions in law firms was demonstrated further this week by the election of the Canadian Carolena Gordon as the new Senior Partner at Clyde & Co.

Just important as her gender, however, is the fact that she is the first partner from outside the UK to hold the position. This has a particular resonance right now with the G7 meeting down in Cornwall and much talk about ‘Global Britain’. As historically a shipping firm, Clyde’s name was the embodiment of English law internationally. It was, you might say, UK-flagged. Now with its 50 offices worldwide in every continent – and including 14 offices in the Americas – one has to ask whether the firm has a national identity any longer. Significantly the firm’s website has no hint of its history. And despite what Boris Johnson (or indeed others) might feel, maybe this doesn’t matter any more.

IP Crime Reaches Top Ten

Here’s one of those stories which makes you question what’s real, what’s illusion and what’s fake It also makes you think what really matters. (For more see our comment on the Chanel case further down).

The results of a study released this week – European Citizens and Intellectual Property  – by the European Union Intellectual Property Office reveals that European consumers still find it hard to distinguish  between genuine and fake goods. But is that really a surprise? If it’s a very good, convincing fake how would the average consumer recognise the difference? If, that is, there is a difference. Especially when it comes to fashion items where does the value lie – in the design, in the craftsmanship or in the brand?

Of course, when we are talking about medicines then it is a different story. Thanks to Covid patients have become much more concerned over fakes recently due to a  proliferation of counterfeit medicines (such as antibiotics and painkillers) as well as personal protective equipment. Indeed it is calculated that 4 billion euros worth of counterfeit pharmaceuticals are traded worldwide annually while as much as 6.8% of EU imports – worth EUR 121 billion – are counterfeits.

So this area of IP law is down and dirty. “IP crime is a profitable activity involving organised crime groups and increased evidence shows links between counterfeiting and piracy as well as other crimes such as drug and human trafficking, cybercrime or fraud,” warns Christian ArchambeauExecutive Director of the EUIPO. “This is a long-standing issue, often interlinked with other types of illegal activities, which requires urgent robust, coordinated action.”

The result is that IP crime has recently been installed as one of the top ten EU priorities in the fight against organised crime. Yes, it’s serious. ‘Definately’.

EXPERTS’ COMMENT OF THE WEEK: THE LAW DELAYED IS DIVORCE DENIED

IT delays at HMCTS have frustrated the implementation of the new divorce legislation. This is what the experts said.

COLLYER BRISTOW

 “Those divorce lawyers of a sceptical disposition and long memories will not be particularly shocked to learn that the MoJ is “delaying” the introduction of divorce reforms. It will be recalled that the previous attempt to bring this into force on the statute books fell at the last hurdle back in 1996.

 This has always been something of a political hot potato and, as one may imagine, certain sections of society (including, quite possibly, a very recently married occupant of Downing Street) are unconvinced about the wisdom of “making divorce easier”. This has, however, just made life much harder for those who were told by their lawyers that they only had a month or so to wait to avoid having to cite their spouse’s behaviour as a reason for the breakdown of their marriage.”

 Toby Yerburgh, Partner

GOODMAN DERRICK LLP

“The delay in no  fault divorce is hugely disappointing  for those in legal circles who have been campaigning for the change but most importantly for  the many couples who have been waiting until Autumn this year to “kick start” their divorce proceedings because they wanted to have a “no fault divorce.   This delay will inevitably present emotional challenges for these couples but it may also have financial consequences if these couples decide to delay further until the legislation comes into force next year. For example, the value of the couples’ assets may fluctuate in the next 10-12 months and there is no guarantee that the levels of income of the couple will be the same next year. Any financial settlement will be based upon the couples assets and income at the time the financial agreement is made.  

 On the other hand however, by waiting for the “no fault divorce” to come in force next April, it may be easier for couples to reach a financial agreement as they are more likely to be amicable and less willing to incur legal fees by engaging in contested or protracted proceedings.”

Charlotte Coyle, Senior Associate

PAYNE HICKS BEACH

“Family lawyers have long bemoaned the current divorce laws and the hostility that can arise as a result of the “blame” culture encouraged and required by the current legal system.  Parties who are in agreement that the marriage has broken down are surprised and disappointed to find that they are then pitted against each other from the outset.

It is disheartening that this vital but long overdue legislation will become even more so following today’s announcement. HMCTS has been working on the online platform for some time, which is already up and running for the current divorce process. It is frustrating that the modifications to the system have not been expedited for this reform.

I am aware of a number of couples who have agreed to wait until the Autumn to formalise their separation, allowing them to divorce consensually, whose plans have now been thwarted.  The new Act seeks to encourage a more conciliatory approach to relationship breakdown, reducing conflict and its damaging effect on family relationships. The legislation sorely needs to be prioritised.  Parties should have the right to separate amicably and with dignity and the long awaited day cannot come too soon.”

Emily Foy, Senior Associate  

OSBORNES

 “This delay is a blow to couples who are seeking to divorce in the most amicable way, with the least impact on their children. Couples who perhaps have been ‘waiting it out’ may feel that they have no option now but to begin the process, citing unreasonable behaviour or adultery. This immediately introduces a contentious element into their divorce, which is sad for them and their families.”

Lisa Pepper, Partner

“While it is hugely disappointing that there has been a delay in bringing the Act into law, divorcing couples seeking a no fault divorce will now at least have a date to plan towards.

 “I understand that the delay is due to the need for the court IT system to be updated to reflect the law change. I am sure that all family lawyers and those seeking a divorce will appreciate the time it takes to resolve such issues, and that the courts must be given the necessary time to ensure a smooth process when the law is brought in.”

  Joanne Wescott, Partner

SEDDONS

 “This is hugely disappointing. Divorcing couples had been preparing themselves for no fault divorce to begin from Autumn 2021. It was never understood why this could not have been have implemented last year when the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill received Royal Assent. Bearing in mind that the last set of ONS divorce statistics revealed that unreasonable behaviour remains the most common reason for divorce, cited by 49% of wives and 35% of husbands, the blame game needs to end sooner rather than later.”

 Neil Russell, Partner

LEGAL THINKING OF THE WEEK

CHANEL CROSSING: Where’s the dividing line between luxury item and commodity product? considers Flavia Ștefura, Senior Associate, MPR Partners

Marilyn Monroe was once famously asked ‘what do you wear to bed?’  She replied ‘Why, Chanel Number 5 of course’.  That is the kind of celebrity endorsement Chanel appreciates.  What it finds less fragrant is any infringement of its trademark which tarnishes its luxury brand.  That is what it accuses online store Cresplocker of doing in an English law suit. It argues the tarnishing comes from selling ‘Chanel’-branded goods alongside goods from other less luxurious brands; offering its trademarked goods online – which its policies do not allow; using the ‘Chanel’ trademark to describe the goods it sells in product captions in both its online store and in a store on e-bay; and not offering a luxury experience to customers.  It claims a test item it purchased arrived crumpled and not in the original packaging.

Crepslocker argues it is protected by the ‘trademark exhaustion rule’ under which, following a first sale of a trademark product by Chanel, or subsequent sales with their consent, the fashion house cannot then control further sales. Crepslocker also says the division Chanel makes between online and offline sales is artificial, and that Chanel has collaborated with sports clothing manufacturers, so cannot claim mixing its products with sportswear tarnishes its brand.

What is a high-end fashionista, not to say IP lawyer, to make of it all?

Post Brexit the UK Supreme Court is no longer bound by decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union, (CJEU).  However, courts in the UK are free to have regard to CJEU decisions in their own rulings, and CJEU precedents tend to protect trademark owners. They support that controlling the sale channels and respect for the integrity of the original packaging are acceptable exceptions to the trademark exhaustion rule. It seems likely the UK courts will follow these established principles.

However, Crepslocker also kept used products in consignment from its customers, and here the courts would probably consider balancing Chanel’s rights, Creplocker’s, and the owner’s rights in the used products to have a platform to sell their goods on the aftermarket.

A win for Chanel may have a chilling effect on online resellers of other luxury brands. Maintaining the prestige and value of such brands by setting sales standards and determining sales outlets may protect the brands, its consumers and the large amounts they pay for the goods.  However, those consumers also need a resale outlet, and there is a demand for the products they own. Careful consideration will have to be given to whether the second-hand luxury goods market is different from the new luxury goods market, and whether the exception to the trademark exhaustion principle still applies. 

LEGAL INSIGHT OF THE WEEK

What is the ‘global minimum tax rate’ and will it happen? ask Ian Borman and James N. Mastracchio of Winston & Strawn

Last weekend the members of the G-7 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US) reached an agreement that a global minimum tax should be implemented and the respective Treasuries will support a broader global effort.  While the reported rate would be 15%, and all individual country’s digital tax would cease, the details of how the minimum tax would be imposed, on what corporations, and on what terms, is unknown. 

Some sort of global minimum corporate tax rate has been talked about for many years – but the idea is currently having a renaissance under OECD proposals and the Biden administration. Some feel that the political capital may well be in place to bring new rules into force, even if these are imposed unilaterally. So, what is it and will it happen?

The purpose of a global minimum tax rate is to disincentivise the shifting of profits to lower tax jurisdictions. The idea was to force multinationals to pay tax in the jurisdictions where their goods and services are sold, but this has proved impractical, so the actual proposals are a little different.

The proposals are effectively an amendment of the US’s Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income (GILTI) tax rules, which mirrors the OECD’s BEPS Pillar II proposals which is intended to be a comprehensive agreement on jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction global minimum taxation.

A key part of the new proposals would require multinational businesses to calculate GILTI on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis, thus preventing the blending of low rate income with income from controlled foreign corporations operating in high tax-rate countries.

The proposals are certainly ambitious and many countries and organisations around the world have applauded efforts to limit countries’ ability to opportunistically set low corporate tax rates. However, what might seem simple is in fact enormously complicated.

Countries such as Ireland, which currently has a 12.5% corporate tax rate, see low levels of taxation as a key method of stimulating growth. As such, it seems unlikely that they will agree to the change and, with each European Union member state able to veto, it’s difficult to see a path to a minimum tax rate across the EU bloc.

It is difficult to know how effective a global minimum tax rate will be if adopted and implemented, but it seems likely that low tax jurisdictions will use any opportunity to replace low tax rates with other incentives by something else, potentially making labyrinthine tax systems even more complex. But with the G7 nations taking the first major step towards a global minimum tax rate, discussions are certain to continue across jurisdictions.

Ian Borman advises, at a strategic level, on business critical issues, including long term financial planning, regulatory issues, financial restructuring and disputes. James N. Mastracchio is a partner in the firm’s office in Washington D.C

LEGAL REVIEW OF THE WEEK WHEN BUSINESSES GO WRONG

The Insolvency Service’s new approach could hurt all company directors of Dissolved Companies argues Steve Thomas of Excello Law

Image courtesy of FTC

When things go badly wrong in a business the dissolution process is a quick, simple and cost-effective way to have the company struck off the register. However, dissolving a company can mean that questionable conduct by directors is swept under the carpet. Some unscrupulous directors have unfortunately used dissolution as a way to avoid accountability or repaying creditors. So what’s to be done?

In order to protect against such abuse, the government has recently given the Insolvency Service new enforcement powers. Indeed, it is widely predicted that many UK companies which were kept solvent by the government’s Covid supports will soon be wound up. The government could well be one of the creditors left out of pocket. That is especially likely given widespread uptake of the government’s Bounce Back Loan (BBL) and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) loans. If a Company is dissolved and has unpaid BBLs and CBILs then those directors may fall under the radar and will not be in the cross hairs of a Liquidator.

Ordinarily, the only way for the creditors of a dissolved company to recover their funds is to restore the company and then to bring an action against its directors. This process is costly and takes time to complete. Therefore, the government has now given the Insolvency Service the power to investigate the conduct of directors of dissolved companies with outstanding government loans. 

While the government is right to protect its interests, there is a danger that these new enforcement powers could be used too aggressively in a scattergun approach against all companies which were dissolved with government loans outstanding. However, many such companies will have been acting properly in taking the loans in a genuine effort to keep their business afloat.

The directors of such companies should take action to limit the risks which these new powers present. Directors should keep clear documentary evidence to prove what the loan was for, what the motive behind the application was, and what was the money spent on. They should keep detailed minutes of board meetings where a company decides to dissolve, and clear evidence showing the rationale for their decision making processes. Such documents could be crucial in defeating any claims made by the Insolvency Service for disqualification to act as a director, or against other sanctions which the service may seek to impose. It is crucial to be able to show that there was no breach of duty by the directors and that, accordingly, no sanctions or bans should be administered.

The government’s efforts to protect its loans are understandable and welcomed but perhaps more thought should be given as to the process of a Company entering into Dissolution, which is administrative and open to abuse i.e. stop the Company being dissolved in the first place. However, the Insolvency Service should exercise discretion when deciding which directors to target with its new powers and this power seems to be akin to locking the door after the horse has bolted.

Steve Thomas is a specialist Insolvency dispute resolution and Insolvency litigation lawyer at Excello Law.

www.excellolaw.co.uk

APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK

Suzanne Staunton has been appointed as a partner in the Employment team of JMW Solicitors LLP in their London Office. Prior to working in private practice, Suzanne spent many years at the independent bar, giving her a unique perspective for clients throughout the litigation process. Staunton has worked closely with legal counsel, employment counsel and HR staff members as well as high net worth individuals and executives on a range of employment law issues.

Anita Rai, head of the Employment, London at JMW Solicitors said, “In London, we are continuing to attract the best legal talent in London. Suzanne is an excellent addition to our busy employment team. As an experienced litigator, Suzanne enhances our complex discrimination and whistleblowing capabilities.”


Having been admitted as an attorney of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands, Moesha Ramsay-Howell has been appointed as an associate to Harneys’ Litigation & Insolvency practice.

 Moesha was born and raised in the Cayman Islands and started out her legal career after becoming the recipient of a Cayman Islands Government scholarship. This allowed her to complete her tertiary education, which included her bachelor’s degree and a postgraduate diploma in Legal Professional Practice.

Moesha is a member of the International Women’s Insolvency and Restructuring Committee (Cayman) and is a board member of the Cayman Islands Legal Practitioners Association. When she is not working or studying, Moesha volunteers at Legal Befrienders, a family resource centre where she provides free legal advice. She is also heavily involved in the Prison Literacy Programme at Her Majesty’s Prison Service Cayman Islands. 

E- VENTS

HARVARD LAW SCHOOL CENTER ON THE LEGAL PROFESSION

The New Legal Function: 360 Degree Insights for Law Leaders

Tuesday, June 29

10:00AM – 2:30PM ET

Register here!
 
Join the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession for a special webinar presented in collaboration with EY Law that will bring together global leaders from law, business, and the academy to discuss the challenges and opportunities for in-house legal departments and related functions over the next 6-24 months. The discussion will be informed by a major study based on 2,000 interviews with general counsel, business leaders, and contracting professionals across 22 countries conducted by the Center and EY in early 2021.

Featuring presentations from David B. Wilkins (Lester Kissel Professor of Law, Harvard Law School) and Cornelius Grossmann (EY Global Law Leader) as well as commentary from Kate Barton (EY Global Vice Chair – Tax), Doug Lankler (General Counsel, Pfizer), Sara Moss (Vice Chair, Estée Lauder), Mary O’Carroll (Chief Community Officer, Ironclad, Inc.), Heidi Stenberg (EY Americas Legal Function Consulting Leader), and more!

Register now as space is limited!

ThoughtLeaders4PrivateClient Webinar ‘Succession Planning for Modern Families’ in your legal diary?

Sarah Williams and Jessica Henson of Payne Hicks Beach are respectively chairing and speaking at the ThoughtLeaders4 Private Client event on 14 June 2021.

With modern science advancing at great speed, they will discuss what this means for succession planning. Complexities over legal relationships and inheritance are pure examples of some of the challenges for private client  lawyers thrown up by surrogacy and modern family dynamics.

Topics to be discussed include:

  • The law surrounding surrogacy – introduction to, and update on, the position in the UK and key jurisdictions
  • The complex web of parental rights flowing from surrogacy
  • Why private client practitioners and trustees need to be up to date on the issues
  • The role of the Human Rights Act
  • Fertility preservation
  • Modern family dynamics and trusts
  • Settlors’ wishes and public policy

Webinar booking link: https://bit.ly/3uCHz6Y

Data for Investor Action on Modern Slavery Tuesday 15 June 2021 | 16:00pm – 17.30pm (British Summer Time)

BINGHAM CENTRE FOR THE RULE OF LAW

 
What data do investors need to take effective action on modern slavery?

There is increasing recognition of the important role of investors when it comes to addressing modern slavery risks in business supply chains, and the private sector more generally.  Investors’ information needs in relation to modern slavery risks are of growing importance in times of increasing demand for responsible investing and a rapidly evolving human rights due diligence landscape.

Yet, actionable information on investee companies’ exposure to modern slavery risks is scarce and often presented in ways that are difficult to integrate into investment business processes. Resources and tools for investors are weakly developed compared, for example, to those tailored to the needs of supply chain managers.

Commissioned by the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre, the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law and The Alan Turing Institute have undertaken research that seeks to address this situation and enable progress.

The project report, which will be launched at this webinar, maps out the existing modern slavery data landscape from the perspective of investors’ information needs, and identifies possible areas for improvement.  In doing so, it considers relevant types of data, analytical methods and strategies for extracting insights from data, and ways of presenting such insights in practical ways to investors.

The resulting findings provide a much-needed evidence base to unlock the potential of data for effective investor action in relation to modern slavery in the most significant areas.
This event is convened by Lise Smit, Senior Research Fellow in Business and Human Rights and Director, Human Rights Due Diligence Forum; Dr Irene Pietropaoli, Research Leader in Business and Human Rights, BIICL; and Florian Ostmann, Policy Theme Lead and Policy Fellow, Public Policy Programme, The Alan Turing Institute.  Organised in collaboration with the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (Modern Slavery PEC), the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, and The Alan Turing Institute.
Chair: 
Murray Hunt, Director, Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre & the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law

Introductory Remarks: 
Dame Sara Thornton, UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner

Presentation of Research Findings: 
Florian Ostmann, Policy Theme Lead, Public Policy Programme, The Alan Turing Institute.

Speakers: 
Anita Dorrett, Director, Investor Alliance for Human Rights
Elena Espinoza, Acting Head of Social Issues, UN Principles for Responsible Investment
Dr Tauni Lanier, Chief Sustainability Officer, World Wide Generation
 

Pricing and Registration

This webinar is free to attend, however advance pre- registration is required
 
BOOK NOW

We hope that you’ve found this editor of the LEGAL DIARY interesting – and maybe even useful.

If so please pass on to colleagues

And please keep sending insights, news and comment to

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Friday June 4th 2021 Edition 60

Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and e-vents from the legal world

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

TIMES, THEY ARE A CHANGIN’? (as someone once sang)

Finding the way through may need AI

The past few days – with a Bank Holiday/Half term holiday – have been predictably quiet. But then large parts of the legal community have been spending time either in Cornwall or in cancelling their forthcoming holidays to Portugal. Nonetheless the two big issues creating noise around the legal industry have remained the same – the move to hybrid working in new-style offices and the fierce ‘imperative of now’ to increase diversity. Both of these, almost certainly, will leave their mark on the legal industry far into the future.

But something else also happened this week – the launch by Thomson Reuters of its new contract review and analysis tool  HighQ Contract Analysis. This uses machine learning, so it is claimed, to answer the specific questions legal professionals want to address in an easy-to-read report. According to the publicity ‘HighQ Contract Analysis provides an integrated experience [enabling users to] leverage HighQ collaboration, workflow and visualization tools to conduct further analysis and generate reports on top of the extracted data.’

Sounds impressive and, at a time when associates are said to be labouring under unbearably stressful workloads, maybe it is AI which is going to be the real game-changer. Works 24/7, ‘from anywhere’ and no D&I issues – yet.

The LegalDiarist

In this week’s edition

+ LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

Risky Business – the Rise of the ‘Risk & Compliance Analyst’

Moving Time – Space is contracting and time expanding

‘Team Days’ at Eversheds

The Money Talks – When it comes to Diversity at Gowling WLG

An All-In agenda at A&O

+ LEGAL ANALYSIS OF THE WEEK – ON DATA TRANSFER from HOGAN LOVELLS

+ CONTRIBUTED ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

WHERE NEXT FOR LITIGATION FUNDING? asks IAN MADEJ

+ APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK from Signature Litigation and Browne Hacobson

+ E-VENTS

LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

Risky Business – the Rise of the ‘Risk & Compliance Analyst’

Image – Courtesy of Noun Project

The increasing role of paralegals has been a marked trend over recent years – often including law graduates on their first step towards a traineeship. But Eversheds Sutherland has come up with a twist on that theme. The firm has announced that it will be offering from its Leeds office what it believes to be the first formal scheme whereby graduates can rotate around different parts of its Risk and Compliance team (including financial crime, regulatory compliance and data, contracts and commercial and business acceptance) over a two year period, so that they develop into ‘truly rounded compliance professionals’,

As the firm comments, it “Doesn’t want to restrict itself to qualified lawyers and miss out on a huge group of diverse graduates with the right skills and attributes, and a desire to build a career in this area.” So recruitment will be of people with a minimum 2.1 degree and who on completion of the programme will be offered a permanent position as a ‘Risk & Compliance Analyst’ and support in obtaining a relevant professional qualification.

As the firm emphasises “Please note that candidates will not qualify as a solicitor” – which is as it should be. The complexity of the legal infrastructure within which business works today means that clients need more then just legal advice. Progressive law firms appreciate that.

Moving Time – Space is contracting and time expanding

Already law firms are responding to the new ways of working – WFH, WFA etc. – by re-setting their plans for premises. One of the latest is DWF which has just adopted a ‘new global office strategy’ inspired by the expressed wish of its people to spend no more than three days a week in the office (and often less than that).

The impact of this can be seen immediately in Glasgow where the local team will soon be moving to the eighth floor of The Sentinel, a fully refurbished office block.

“It is a genuinely exciting opportunity to move into a newer, fitter-for purpose environment embracing some of the newer habits that have been formed over the last twelve months,” said Paul Pignatelli, Glasgow office managing partner. “The pandemic has unsurprisingly led to more people working from home than ever before. During this time the DWF Executive and Glasgow partners discussed how our office requirements and working habits have changed and the ways in which this affects our clients’ and our own future working needs. With our colleagues also indicating that they wanted to split their working week by spending between 2-3 days a week from an office, we decided to move to a hybrid-working model and relocate our office to The Sentinel. As a result we have been able to reduce our square foot space by half and begin designing our new office environment that caters for a new way of working.” We’ll be looking out to see how it works out.

Team Days’ at Eversheds Sutherland

Meanwhile – and there is a pattern here – Eversheds Sutherland has also announced that it will be operating from mid-September with a hybrid working model for its ten UK offices. Again the majority of its people will be coming into the office on just two to three days each week (including at least one “team day”). The remainder of the week will be spent working remotely.“We have devoted a huge amount of time and effort to this, seeking feedback from across the firm, at all levels and from all roles,” said Keith Froud, Managing Partner. “We have also spoken to clients about their anticipated needs. We believe that two to three days each week is the right balance, and this will include at least one “team day” where most if not all of a team will attend to promote face to face connectivity.”

The new regime will be phased in over the next few months and become the norm in September.

The Money Talks – When it comes to Diversity at Gowling WLG

Ever upwards to career success at the University of Birmingham?

Of course, the other big theme of the year has been the drive to open out the legal industry to a more diverse group of entrants. And that means not only bringing people in but ensuring that there are routes for progression.

Latest to make announcements in this area is the Gowling WLG (UK) Charitable Trust and the University of Birmingham which have partnered to launch a new ‘Black Talent in Law’ Bursary scheme which aims to support better access to the legal profession for black students at Birmingham Law School (BLS). Students on the scheme will be provided with work placement opportunities at Gowling WLG, on-going mentoring support from lawyers at the firm, and also paid financial contributions in their second and final year of their studies at BLS. Three students will be the first to enrol on the scheme in September.

“We are excited to launch this scheme in partnership with Birmingham Law School through the Gowling WLG (UK) Charitable Trust.,” said Andy Stylianou, Chair of Gowling WLG (UK) LLP and the firm’s lead on diversity and inclusion. “The scheme will offer the students a fantastic opportunity to gain invaluable experience working within a busy international law firm while completing their studies and to be financially supported along the way. Black lawyers are under-represented in corporate law firms and we are committed to doing our part to address this and to promote the progression of black students to careers at our firm and the legal profession more widely.”

Again, let’s see what it looks like in five years time. And in ten years time let’s hope it’s no longer needed.

An All-In agenda?

Meanwhile A&O has got D&I going across a wide front. It has just launched ‘All In’, its ‘global commitment to becoming a more diverse and inclusive organisation’, which is the next step in the firm’s push to create ‘an inclusive culture that celebrates and embraces difference’. The firm has also published an article: Reflecting on a year of work on Race & Ethnicity, which takes a ‘hard look’ at the progress it is making to create racial equity in the firm and assess the many challenges that lie ahead.

All of this builds on its 2020 initiative the  Black Aspiring Solicitors Mentoring Scheme which was set up in partnership with the organisation ‘Aspiring Solicitors’ to provide a mentorship programme and bespoke workshops to a small group of black or black-mixed heritage students.

A&O also runs a range of programmes in partnership with Rare recruitment, and hosts an independent ‘inclusivity series’. Students wishing to register their interest in the Black Heritage Insight Programme can do so here.

LEGAL ANALYSIS OF THE WEEK

DATA TRANSFER

Today the European Commission is due to adopt revamped data transfer tools with more legal and privacy safeguards to allow companies to transfer data securely around the world

Here’s what lawyers at HOGAN LOVELLS had to say on the legal implications of this.

“[The] announcement on ‘standard contractual clauses’ (SCCs) will be a game-changer with important implications for data transfers between EU and non-EU countries,” said Eduardo Ustaran, Co-Head of the firm’s global Privacy and Cybersecurity practice. “All existing contracts relating to data transfers will need to be revised. The key difference between the old and new SCCs will be the new modular approach, so organisations will need to identify the correct module in light of their role. The new clauses will also be packed with provisions triggered by the so-called ‘Schrems II’ ruling from July 2020, which requires businesses to assess the potential for government access to data and consider carefully whether there are sufficient data protection measures in place.”

Meanwhile,Ivan Shiu, a partner specialising in commercial and privacy litigation, added, “Companies should also see the new rules as an opportunity to review their suppliers’ and vendors’ contracts and cybersecurity credentials, as failing to comply with the new standards could lead to heavy penalties. If a company gets it wrong, quite apart from the business and reputational risks, the company runs the risk of facing claims in what is a growing wave of data-related class actions pending before the UK courts.”

CONTRIBUTED ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

WHERE NEXT FOR LITIGATION FUNDING?

asks IAN MADEJ, Chief Executive Officer of Asertis

Having grown exponentially, litigation funding is now part of everyday life. When the convictions of 39 sub-postmasters were recently quashed, litigation funding enabled the civil litigation which led to them being compensated. The FT noted: ‘When it comes to challenging appalling behaviour by a deep-pocketed establishment entity, some private firepower is essential.’

Funders now regularly work with law firms – as seen in multiple actions against the German auto giants in the dieselgate scandal. Equally valued by claimants and law firms, it is also increasingly attractive for firms who want to generate revenue early on, rather than wait for a lengthy dispute to conclude.


Where next?

New entrants will inevitably emerge, attracted by potential gains. But informed observers fear that some are overly attracted by uncorrelated and outstripped returns.

Trying to navigate an increasingly difficult investment space, they may rely solely on external counsel for investment advice, and make decisions based exclusively on information provided from acting advisers. But external advice is only a part of the jigsaw, and the battle hardened funders who seek to mitigate risk based on their own and others’ experience will inevitably come up trumps.

Should this occur, these new entrants may find market economics working against them. Over-leveraged and inefficient, businesses without a clear investment strategy may not survive.


Consolidation and specialisation

And the existing players? Banking and law show what might happen next. Bank mergers have proliferated since the 1970s. Among Europe’s lenders, consolidation is finally underway. It was a similar story in the legal business: domestic law firm mergers were commonplace in the 1990s, followed by a wave of transatlantic tie ups a decade later.

The same may happen with litigation funders. An indicator of what to expect came with the 2019 merger between Omni Bridgeway and IMF Bentham, described as ‘a strategic combination.’ Economies of scale, increased access to funds and an enhanced geographic footprint were obvious advantages.

Beyond consolidation at the top, niche funders will appear, focusing on specific sectors such as construction and shipping: a consequence of increased sophistication.

Some market players have already been pioneers: applying litigation funding across several jurisdictions and practice areas and trying to industrialise it. Although the market was not yet ready, such initiatives are prescient.

As the size and scale of key market participants evolves, some new entrants will become dominant players, providing lawyers and lay clients with greater choice and wider access. Now that litigation funding is (almost) completely mainstream, it will also enable funding to become more normalised.

Ian Madej is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Asertis the UK’s fastest growing Litigation Funder. He was a member of the team that listed Arrow Global PLC on the main market of the London Stock Exchange in 2013, having grown the business since its MBO in 2005. Having secured funding from Arrow Credit Opportunities SCSp, a €1.7bn European Fund, Ian founded Asertis in January 2020. 

APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK

Signature Litigation has promoted to partnership Becca Hogan (below) who had joined the firm in 2015 from Clyde & Co, where she was seconded to both Goldman Sachs and the FCA. She is currently advising a number of defendants to a $2 billion commercial litigation claim in the High Court which is listed for a 17 week trial next October. She is also investigating a number of possible group action claims.

Commenting on her promotion, Hogan said, “Becoming a Partner in such an inspiring firm is a very proud moment for me. I am very much looking forward to participating in Signature’s continued growth and success and in particular to grow Signature’s capabilities within group claims.” Partner Graham Huntley added, “It is very rewarding to be able to welcome as [a partner] talented lawyers who have developed within the firm. We are fortunate to be able to pursue our commitment to organic growth.”

Browne Jacobson has appointed as a partner Khalid Ghazi(below) in the IT and Complex Transactions team in its London offices. Ghazi joins from the Commercial Law Group (CLGp) of the Government Legal Department (GLD), the in-house commercial legal advisers to Government, where he was a Senior Lawyer. He had specialised in major projects for government departments, with a particular focus on technology transactions involving complex implementations and transformations.

Prior to joining the GLD, Ghazi trained and worked at international law firms Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and McCarthy Tetrault. “Having worked with many law firms in my government career,” said Ghazi, “I have long been impressed by Browne Jacobson’s performance on the most difficult, demanding and complex transactions where they have consistently provided a premium service and proved themselves to be top tier for this kind of work.”

E-VENTS

THE BINGHAM CENTRE FOR THE RULE OF LAW in conjunction with the NEW YORK BAR

The Rule of Law and Authoritarian Ascendance: the Nature and Scale of the Threat, and the Legal, Policy and Societal Responses to It Online Tuesday 8 June 2021 | 13.00 – 16.00pm (Eastern Daylight Time) 18:00 – 21.00pm  (British Summer Time)
The rise of authoritarian or authoritarian-leaning governments and political parties is a trend affecting nations across the globe. in the United States, we have witnessed an undermining of democratic norms and institutions that previously constrained the reach of the Executive Branch. The steady erosion of these norms, coupled with an aversion to the rule of law, culminated in the January 6 assault on the United States Capitol. However, the U.S. is not alone in this struggle, with populist authoritarian movements gaining support across Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. These movements have their roots in ideologies spanning the political spectrum, from right-wing extremism in the United States and Europe to leftist movements in Latin America. They are commonly fuelled by disinformation, propaganda, and extremist hate speech spread on social media, and they manifest themselves in similar ways, including contempt for minorities and immigrants, digital repression, glorification of violent ideologies, and the undermining of independent judiciaries. These disparate political movements share many characteristics, most notably that they are antithetical to properly functioning democracies, they weaken human rights protections, and they are hostile to the rule of law.

What do we mean by the “rule of law”? How should the United States respond to these movements, both domestically and internationally? What tools already exist, legally or in terms of policies and programs, that can help to counter these anti-democratic and often violent movements? How big a threat does authoritarianism pose to western democracy in the long term? Domestically, is the current Congressional proposal for a Commission on Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation – in response to the January 6th insurrection – sufficient? Or are other law enforcement measures required? What is the role of the legal profession in defending and advancing democracy at a time of competing philosophies of governance?
Speakers:
Ken Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch
Philippe Sands, Matrix Chambers, University College London
Ilona Szabo, Igarape Institute

Moderator:
Ulysses Smith, Bingham Centre for The Rule of Law

Sponsoring Committees:
Task Force on the Rule of Law, Chair, Stephen L. Kass
United Nations, Chair, Clayton T. Cheney
Council on International Affairs, Chair, Michael D. Cooper

Pricing and Registration

This event is free for members of the New York Bar and Non-Lawyers, and $15 for non-members.
 
BOOK NOW

MAJOR, LINDSAY and AFRICA

Major, Lindsey and Africa are running a webinar on Tuesday 8thJune from 16:00 – 17:00 on

Legal Digital Transformation: Meeting the Talent Challenge

to explore whether the legal talent pipeline can keep pace with digital transformation post-Covid. 

 Chaired by Isabel Parker, Executive Director for Digital Legal Exchange, participants will hear from global leaders in different portions of the legal ecosystem, including: 

  • Macro socio-economic trends impacting the legal industry: Mark Cohen, Executive Chairman of the Digital Legal Exchange and regular Forbes commentator
  • Strategic talent development: Duc Trang, Managing Director, Transform Advisory Services, Major, Lindsey & Africa 
  • A recruiter’s perspective: Deborah Ben-Canaan, Partner and the Senior Practice Leader for In-House Counsel Recruiting, Major, Lindsey & Africa
  • The GC perspective:Bill Deckelman, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of DXC Technology   

To attend RSVP via this link.

We hope that you have found this edition of the Legal Diary interesting. If so, please circulate to colleagues.

And please continue to send news, insights and comment to

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

Enjoy the week-end.

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Friday May 28 2021 Edition 59

Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and e-vents from the legal world

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK – POSITIVE CHANGE?

So was the hope justified? Image from Historic England

How the world will look by the end of next month is less clear than we might have hoped. The locks could still be on if the Indian variant gets out of control. But in the legal industry the future is starting to come into focus.

First, despite initial fears, many large law firms have weathered the storm well enough. Not atypically, Clyde & Co’s Chief Executive Officer Matthew Kelsall was able to observe this week that, “The response of our people to the pandemic and all of the personal and professional pressures that came with it was extraordinary. Thanks to everyone’s efforts we have continued to perform strongly.”

Second, new ways of working are being adopted extensively and confidently for the future. As Andrew Levander, Chair of Dechert’s Policy Committee, remarked a couple of days ago when announcing the implementation of a ‘flexible hybrid model’, “We believe we can balance in-person and virtual working in a way that engages and empowers our community to better support our clients and meet the professional and personal needs of our people.”

Third, and maybe most important, the sophisticated use of data has been brought centre-stage. As the recent  InterAction Marketing & Business Development Survey  from LexisNexis revealed, the law firms whoch saw high growth in 2020 were four times more likely to use tracking metrics for their marketing and business development efforts.

Ane when you then add in all the diversity initiatives which were launched – including, for example, A&O’s Black Aspiring Solicitors Mentoring Scheme – we might look back and reflect that from a purely commercial dimension this past year has been a period of positive change. It might taste bitter-sweet but seize the time.

The LegalDarist

In this week’s edition

+ LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

– Long Walk to Justice

– Snapshots from Dickens’ Legal Life

Data quality critical to law firms’ marketing success

– Drive at Your own Risk

– Hope for Crime

+ CONTRIBUTED ARTICLES OF THE WEEK

SUBSIDISING THE WEALTHY: ARE THE COURT COSTS OF CIVIL FRAUD TOO LOW IN MEGA CASES?

asks Dan Dodman

+ APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK with Kennedys and Farrer & Co.

+ E-VENTS

Brick Court Centenary series continues

LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

Long Walk to Justice

Here we go again

Get out your boots and stretch out those muscles because this year’s season of LEGAL WALKS is about to commence. The Access to Justice Foundation (in partnership with the regional Legal Support Trusts and committees) is gearing up again for a series of walks between 21 June and 21 October to raise thousands of pounds for frontline free legal advice services. The first batch in June will take place in Preston, Derby, Doncaster, Northampton, Sheffield, Brighton, Eastbourne, Tunbridge Wells, Hastings, York and Guildford. Most other towns and cities will then follow in the subsequent months until we trudge to a stop in the Autumn. Imaginatively the Leeds walk will be virtual – this could catch on.

Last year, of course, the majority of walks had to be cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. So there is a lot of ground (and money) to be made up. “There is still time to sign up for any of the Legal Walks taking place this year,” said Laura Cassidy, Fundraising and Development Manager at the Access to Justice Foundation. “Not only are they great fun, but they are a brilliant way to raise awareness and much needed funds for the free legal advice sector at this challenging time. We’re encouraging everyone who is passionate about access to justice to make a difference and walk side by side with us again this year.”

For information, or to register for the Legal Walks taking place in the North East, North West, Yorkshire, the East of England, the Midlands, the South West, Wales or Scotland, visit atjf.org.uk/legal-walks, or email lauracassidy@atjf.org.uk

Snapshots from Dickens’ Legal Life

Anyone familiar with Dickens’ Bleak House will know that the great Victorian novelist had a sceptical view of legal processes as well as being deeply suspicious of the motives of lawyers themselves. But Dickens was actually a member of Middle Temple and, had things worked out differently, he might well have gone on to have a successful career in the law.

Pickwick in the attorney’s office

So, timed to link with Middle Temple Library’s current exhibition (May -August 2021,) the Inn has produced a short but charmingly well-produced digital display of 10 short videos which explore Dickens’ involvement in the legal world and how his writing was inspired by the experience.

Narrated by Barnaby Bryan, The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple’s Archivist supported by voice actor Tim Vaughan, the videos take the viewer from Dickens’ early days as a court reporter and subsequent affiliation to the Middle Temple through his friendship with the great judge Talfourd to his time with Doctors’ Commons. It ends with his final departure from the Inn in 1855 when he collected his £100 deposit paid many years earlier. As he pointed out when he left, he had no idea when he joined the Inn how much his novels and journalism were to take over his life. So definitely worth a watch at https://sway.office.com/dLytdenUoAhfkocj?ref=email

Data quality critical to law firms’ marketing success

According to the just-published Global LexisNexis InterAction Survey an overwhelming majority of law, accounting and financial service firms report that marketing and business development strategies have changed significantly over the past year. And it was the switch to digital outreach – eight out of the top ten marketing techniques used by firms were digital – which made the biggest diference to their success. Significantly the main challenge to marketing effectiveness cited by both law firms and A&FS firms has been data quality.

“The Covid-19 pandemic exposed business development and marketing strengths and weaknesses across every industry, but it also sheds some light on how law and accounting and financial services firms can improve,” said Brendan Nelson, General Manager of LexisNexis Software Solutions. “As technology adoption continues to help firms better capture, manage, and gain insights from their valuable data they can adopt a holistic and strategic approach to business development that will successfully drive firm growth.”

Key findings from the study include:

  • Pandemic-related issues were the top challenge for 51% of law firms and 42% of A&FS firms.
  • 54% of high-growth firms experienced a positive impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. The same could be said for only 11% of no-growth firms.
  • High growth firms are investing more in marketing and business development. High growth law firms project an increase of 38%. High growth A&FS firms spent an average of 15.5% of revenue on marketing, which was almost three times more than other firms.
  • When it comes to marketing/business development investment, A&FS and law firms differ greatly. Law firms will heavily invest in their firm’s website, CRM, and training for lawyers, whereas A&FA firms will direct investments to social media and email marketing in addition to CRM.

The 2021 InterAction Marketing & Business Development Survey is available for download here.

Drive at Your Own Risk

Yes, it’s another pain in the neck Image courtesy of FoyleLegal

This coming Bank Holiday Monday (31 May 2021) sees the the Whiplash Reform Programme coming into force across England and Wales. It means a big change in the way people injured in a road traffic accident (RTA) can claim compensation. But not everyone is happy about it arguing that it is too complicated and will put off those with genuine injuries.

“The lack of compassion and common sense shown by the government with the introduction of this programme beggars’ belief,” says Qamar Anwar, managing director of First4Lawyers. “While the government might sell these reforms as an opportunity for claimants to settle their claims quickly and without the need for court, the reality is quite different.”

The introduction of a do-it-yourself online portal for claims worth up to £5,000 has been accompanied by a ‘snappy’ 64-page user guide, explains Anwar.“How many claimants do they think will sift through 64 pages to guide them through their claim? Worse still, how will claimants know if their claim is worth more or less than £5,000?

 “And let’s not forget the new portal go-live date comes on a bank holiday, when it appears that the call centre to support injured claimants won’t even be open. Only this government could launch such a fundamental change to consumer rights, and then have no one on hand to assist claimants with what are going to be at best, teething problems. The portal has already had number of technical difficulties for professional users, so it doesn’t bode well for claimants.”

So if you detect a pattern of central government incompetence here you may well be right. [Bring back Dominic Cummings, say some readers].

Meanwhile, the LegalDiarist’s advice? Don’t take your car out on Monday. Or maybe best not to take your car out at all.

Hope for Crime

Doing time – James Lakewell, another bent defence solicitor from ‘Line of Duty’

Memories of the recent ‘Line of Duty’ series might be starting to fade but what cannot be erased is the awful image it presented of criminal solicitors. Without fail they appeared either dodgy or deadbeat.

So it was a breath of fresh air to hear the bold and inspirational words from the Criminal Defence team at Hodge Jones & Allen (HJA) this week. “At a time of continued pressure on the criminal justice system, we are delighted to welcome three young new lawyers to the department,” commented Raj Chada, Partner and head of department. “Our ethos is to provide the best service to all clients, from the protestor to the murder suspect, from the shoplifter to the city trader. Whatever their status, we will fight their corner.”

HJA is ranked as Tier 1 by Legal 500 and has defended some of the country’s most high-profile and complex cases. It has recently had a rebrand to reflect its diverse client-base and continuing effort to “fight for what’s right”. Among the new recruits is Higher Rights Advocate, Sania Shah, who has more than five years’ experience and specialises in serious and complex crime and youth crime. Surely she should be a model to inspire the next Line of Duty defence solicitor.

The Rich are Different

Meet the client Image courtesy The Wealth List

The launch by Fladgate of Walgate Family Office, a new London-based service to deal with the personal and domestic needs of wealthy families, is an interesting example of the growing diversification of services by law firms.

To be frank, it’s such an obvious move that it is only surprising that it’s not been done before.

Certainly one elite Lincoln’s Inn family law firm reported last year that it was often asked by clients not only to recruit chauffeurs and butlers for hyper-wealthy foreign families but also to recommend the best restaurants. But the Walgate development takes it up to another level. Other firms with that elite clientele should now follow. Assuming, that is, London can continue to attract the immensely wealthy despite the rapidly growing ‘Not Welcome Here’ list. 

CONTRIBUTED ARTICLES OF THE WEEK

SUBSIDISING THE WEALTHY: ARE THE COURT COSTS OF CIVIL FRAUD TOO LOW IN MEGA CASES? asks Dan Dodman

Dan Dodman

Civil fraud is responsible for some of the some of the greatest war stories in the legal world. For example, the battle between Boris Beresovsky and Roman Abramovitch springs to mind. Similarly, the USD6 billion claim in the BTA bank fraud which saw its chief perpetrator Mukhtar Ablyazov arrested whilst in France after he skipped the country.

These kinds of cases are legal legend that make careers.  They also drive innovative uses of the legal system. Asset tracing, freezing injunctions, document/evidence collection and third party orders are some of the tools used to advance cases. This requires a huge amount of Court resource and these claims create fundamental issues within our legal system. 

Take, for example, the issue of Court fees.  These are supposed to be representative of the cost of a Judge looking at a matter across the entire length of a claim and the cost of a Judge actually sitting and hearing a trial.  The issue fees on claims are capped at £10,000 (with a further £1,000 if a claim actually gets to Court). 

But £11,000 in a claim of USD6 billion? If a trial goes on for six months, this must count as the greatest bargain that the private sector can make from the public.

It also changes the way clients with smaller claims can interact with the system.  Recently, I worked with several individuals have lost their entire life savings to a fraudulent scheme.  Rather than watch their entire pension pots disappear they clubbed together to pay legal fees and begin proceedings Explaining to them that they then had to put their hands in their pockets to find a further £10,000 to bring a claim was a real challenge.   The legal system is supposed to represent everyone and there is a real risk that huge civil fraud claims prejudice this.  

What is the solution? There is an opportunity for these claims to effectively sponsor those people who cannot afford to bring proceedings.  Would it not be fairer for a trial fee of 1% to be levied on a claim of USD6 billion in order to allow claims of £300,000 or less from others that have lost everything to go ahead?  I would certainly think so.

Dan Dodman is a civil fraud lawyer at Goodman Derrick LLP, the London law firm.

APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK

Farrer & Co has appointed Gerard Heyes as a partner in its Disputes Resolution team.  He joins from Simmons & Simmons, where he was a managing associate in the London office specialising in financial services litigation, disputes and investigations and in managing contentious risk.

Gerard Heyes

“Gerard has great experience in a field that we see as strategically important to us,” said Siobhan Jones, Head of Disputes Resolution at Farrer & Co. “His appointment will add further strength and depth to our existing contentious financial services and regulatory expertise.”

Antony French, Anthony Rawlins and Deirdre Burgess are joining the Kennedys catastrophic injury team having left the BLM (formerly Berrymans Lace Mawer). They will be bringing with them six associates and a litigation assistant

Standing up for the injured at Kennedys

French had been head of the team at BLM’s having previously worked at Greenwoods. He handles complex, large and catastrophic injury claims arising out of road traffic accidents and casualty claims.

Burgess joined BLM from DWF and was also, prior to that, at Greenwoods. She has particular expertise in fatalities, serious orthopaedic injuries, chronic pain cases, brain injuries as well as suspected exaggerated and fraudulent claims.

Rawlins defends complex motor, employer’s liability and public claims. He has a particular interest in defending brain injury, spinal, amputation and chronic pain claims.

”Kennedys presence and forward-thinking attitude along with the experience we bring means that we can create the “go to” law firm in London for large and catastrophic injury claims for the next 20 years and beyond,” says French.

In the week when whiplash injuries are in the news the timing seems oddly appropriate.

E-VENTS

BRICK COURT CENTENARY SERIES CONTINUES

with

RICHARD SUSSKIND
5:30pm Wednesday 9th June 2021 online

Richard Susskind – The man with more than one plan

Richard Susskind is the world’s most cited author on the future of legal services. He has been the IT Adviser to the Lord Chief Justice since 1998, and is, amongst many other roles, the Chair of the Online Dispute Resolution Group of the Civil Justice Council, the President of the Society for Computers and Law and the Chair of the Advisory Board of the Oxford Internet Institute.

The Brick Court centenary presents an opportunity, alongside reflection on the past hundred years, to consider what the future holds for the individual barrister and the Bar as a whole.

Please join us for a talk on precisely that subject from Professor Susskind, which will be followed by discussion/Q&A, featuring responses from some specially-invited guests. 

Please register here:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/9129675369533221644

And finally…

WOMEN WHO WILL – LAST CHANCE TO NOMINATE (Act now!)

For the second consecutive year Obelisk Support and Next 100 years are welcoming nominations from senior general counsel and other senior leaders in law to feature in the 2021 report.

For this year’s “Women Who Will” report, they are asking general counsel to nominate the women they work with who they think are the leaders of the future. Please find the 2020 report here.

They are looking for women who have shown exemplary leadership. This might be in a position that comes with leadership responsibilities. They might also be showing leadership in the wider sense, through vision and action in the community or by acting as a champion for diversity, for new technology, or for new ways of delivering legal work.

Nominate a “woman who will” from your team or law firms today, for inclusion in this year’s report.

The deadline for submissions is 31 May.

Click here for more information.

We hope that you have found this edition of the LEGAL DIARY interesting – and even useful -. If so please relay on to colleagues and register as a follower. And continue to send diary-type news, insights, observations and commentary to

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Friday May 21 2021 Edition 58

Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and e-vents from the legal world

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK – A BLOODY MESS

Image: Valentyn Salja

It’s been a week of reckoning for the Establishment. Last night’s Panorama pointed the finger at the top brass in the BBC who turned a blind eye – and covered up – the misdeeds of Martin Bashir. Meanwhile, later today the chickens begin to return to roost regarding the contaminated blood scandal of the 1980s (see our lead story in ‘Diary of the Week’ below).

As Des Collins (Senior Partner, Collins Solicitors), who acts for many of the victims, points out, the list of politicians involved in the affair, one way or another, is long and runs through both main parties – Lord Fowler, Lord Clarke, Edwina Currie, Baroness Bottomley,  Stephen Dorrell, Alan Milburn, Lord Reid, Patricia Hewitt, Alan Johnson, Andy Burnham, Lord Lansley and Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP. “We remain hopeful that they will be called and agree to participate [in the inquiry],” he says. “Their recollection of events is crucial to help us understand how this scandal came about, the response and how a recurrence can be prevented.”

Most of those above have left politics. Not so Andy Burnham. In recent weeks he has spoken about his disillusionment with “The ways of Westminster.” Just how disillusioning it all was we wait to find out.

The LegalDiarist

In this week’s edition

+ LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

– Blood Money?

Crimes Against Humanity in Syria

– Going Green in the Midlands

– Tintin in America

– Lawyers offer a Lead (in social media)

+ CONTRIBUTED ARTICLES OF THE WEEK: WHAT DO WE DO POST-COVID?

– THE FUTURE FOR RESIDENTIAL EVICTIONS by Mark Steggles, Thomson Snell & Passmore LLP

– WRONGS AND RIGHTS OF RETURNING TO WORK POST-COVID by Miquelle Groves,  DAS Law

– WHAT TO DO ABOUT MANDATORY VACCINATION? by Desley Sherwin,  Roythornes Solicitors

+APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK from Addleshaw Goddard and Royds Withy King

E-VENTS from Matrix Chambers and BDBPitmans

LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

Blood Money?

This is where its starts – Image: Nguyen Hiep

This afternoon Matt Hancock is due to given evidence on behalf of the Department of Health to the long-awaited official inquiry into the historic contaminated blood scandal “We welcome the fact that Matt Hancock is taking time in his busy diary to engage with the Infected Blood Inquiry,” says Des Collins, Senior Partner, Collins Solicitors and legal advisor to more than 1500 of the people affected.

Understandably, Mr Hancock and colleagues have primarily focused on Covid of late. However infected blood remains the biggest treatment disaster in the history of the NHS, having begun decades ago yet the effects are on-going and raw.  We urge the Government not to lose sight of its obligations to all those who have suffered and those who continue to do so by putting the matter of fair recompense to bed, once and for all.”

Mr Collins went on to say that his clients are hoping the Secretary-of-State will provide details of the Independent Reviewer’s appointment, whose role is to manage a new compensation framework, “As promised back in March and about which we have heard nothing since,” Collins points out. Covid, it seems, can provide cover for everything.

Crimes Against Humanity in Syria

The Syrian nightmare goes on and might even be compounded for refugees by this week’s news that Denmark is ordering some of its Syrian refugees to ‘go home’ on the grounds that Damascus and its surrounding area is now secure.

Meanwhile earlier this week Legal Action Worldwide (‘LAW’) filed a victims’ submission to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on behalf of 20 Syrian refugees in Jordan. This is the first time that Syrian survivors of sexual violence are urging the Prosecutor to open an investigation into crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Syrian government. The victims – who include 13 men and 7 women – are all survivors of sexual violence. In many cases they were children at the time and were subject to mass rape, gang rape and other forms of sexual violence and torture. Many witnessed civilians being summarily executed and tortured to death.

According to LAW, its submission is representative of hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have been subjected to cruel and degrading treatment for daring to oppose the Syrian government. The victims, it seems, were targeted on the basis of their religion, political ideology and gender. Their testimonies confirm that the Syrian government used sexual violence as a tool to terrorize, humiliate and instil fear in the civilian population.

 The case builds on the precedent set by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2019 when it concluded that it could open a full investigation on the situation of the Rohingyas when they fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh. For Syrian victims, the situation in Myanmar/Bangladesh is analogous to their own. Millions of Syrians have been forced from their homes and the continued threat of violence prevents them from returning home.

  “Syrian victims have had the bravery to stand up and tell their stories. said Antonia Mulvey, Executive Director of Legal Action Worldwide (LAW). “The ICC now has a chance to restore some of the dignity that was stolen from them” 

 LAW is funded by the European Union. For further information contact hare@legalactionworldwide.

Going Green in the Midlands

Totally wired?

Following the first-ever detailed survey of individual law firms’ eco-friendliness by Law.com International the question remains whether solutions lie primarily in large scale strategic change or whether we can save the planet one light bulb at a time. The answer is probably a combination of both but to check out individual motivation Roythornes Solicitors (which has offices stretching across middle England from Birmingham to Spalding) has recently undertaken a survey to explore changing attitudes towards carbon emissions among its staff.

“Sustainability and protecting the environment around us is more important than ever and it’s vital that we make a conscious effort as a team to mitigate our carbon footprint where possible as small changes can make a big difference to the planet,” said Ann Barrasso, the firm’s ‘green team’ champion.“We commissioned the survey to gauge the commitment of staff, so we were pleased to see that people are making a concerted effort to protect the planet by shopping locally, recycling more, composting their waste and even installing solar panels.”

Maybe not surprisingly during lockdown the firm reduced its own carbon emissions by 45% (October 2019-December 2020) through implementing initiatives such as switching from paper-based forms to electronic forms thereby saving just under half a million sheets of paper and significantly cutting the emissions of running the printer and producing the ink.  

“As a firm we’ve made huge steps to reduce our carbon emissions, saving seven tonnes in the last year through [among other things] the purchase of 100% renewable energy in our Spalding office,” added Barrasso. “We hope that it will inspire other companies to make definitive steps towards reducing their environmental impact too.”

Where Spalding goes Spitalfields must surely follow.

Tintin in Hopper-land

‘IP-ee-aye-o!’ Catch me if you can!

Is nothing sacred? Increasingly we are asking that question both literally and metaphorically as some people get murdered for the use of what are regarded as blasphemous images and others are merely sued for them. The latter, fortunately was the case recently in France where a court in Rennes had to judge whether there had been a copyright infringement by the artist Marabout when he – jokingly – placed an image by Tintin into a picture by Edward Hopper.

Moulinsart, whoch acts on behalf of the Tintin estate, argued that the works were “nothing to do with humour”. Instead they simply took advantage – you might think, cynically – of the Tintin character’s reputation by including him in an “erotic universe.” (Thereby promoting shock and fury!).

So it was, maybe, understandable that the schoolboy detective’s representative could not see the funny side of Marabout’s juxtapositioning. But fortunately the court did and ruled that the artist’s works were covered by the ‘parody exception’ to copyright.

This is an important ruling because of the necessity on freedom of speech grounds to strike a balance between protecting intellectual property rights and allowing a wide range of comment and innovation,” comments Andrew Stone, intellectual property specialist at Clarke Willmott. “Decisions such as that found in this case enable people to critique the underlying work or artist without infringing their intellectual property rights.”

No doubt Captain Haddock would agree.

Lawyers offer a lead

According to research from Passle, the Corona virus has given rise to a much higher than usual number of social media posts by law firms – mostly advising clients on how to become C-virus savvy. A total of 37,000 pieces of online advice was given by the top 100 firms last year with the Top Ten contributors consisting of Norton Rose FulbrightKingsley NapleyFreshfields Bruckhaus DeringerLinklaters, Taylor Wessing.  Burges SalmonSlaughter and MayLewis SilkinIrwin Mitchell and Osborne Clarke. The old-style Slaughter’s partners would be incandescent – time was they thought that even speaking to the press was way beneath them.

CONTRIBUTED ARTICLES OF THE WEEK: WHAT DO WE DO POST-COVID?

THE FUTURE FOR RESIDENTIAL EVICTIONS by Mark Steggles, partner in the property litigation team Thomson Snell & Passmore LLP

Mark Steggles

Most evictions in England remain suspended until after 31 May as a result of changes introduced by the Government in response to the pandemic. Certain evictions can still go ahead (for example where there are more than 6 months’ rent arrears or anti-social behaviour), although bailiffs will reschedule evictions for a later date if an individual residing in the property is self-isolating or displaying symptoms of COVID-19

On 12 May, the Housing Minister, Christopher Pincher, announced that the emergency measures for renters introduced during the pandemic would be brought into line with the roadmap.

Notice periods for the service of Section 21 Notices (based on no fault evictions) that were increased to 6 months will be reduced to 4 months from 1 June. The Minister indicated that he planned for notice periods to return to pre-pandemic levels (being 2 months) from 1 October.

The current ban on all other bailiff enforced evictions will end on 31 May, although the restrictions on carrying out an eviction if anyone living at a property is self-isolating or displaying symptoms are expected to remain.

No let-up from uncertainty

Landlords directly feeling the effects of a tenant failing to pay rent will welcome this announcement. However, getting a County Court bailiff appointment often took many weeks pre-pandemic and with the anticipated increase in demand, further delays in obtaining possession seem inevitable.

In certain circumstances, there is scope for a possession order to be transferred to the High Court where there is greater access to more enforcement agents, but how willing County Court Judges will be to agree to such a transfer in the current climate is unclear.

The Government has also announced that a White Paper will be published in the autumn setting out proposals for the abolition of Section 21 evictions to provide tenants with greater security. In short, the long-tail of Covid will be felt by the property letting market for many months (or years) to come.

WRONGS AND RIGHTS OF RETURNING TO WORK POST-COVID: Key questions answered by MIQUELLE GROVES, Associate Solicitor at DAS Law

My medical history makes me more vulnerable to the virus. Can I refuse to return to work until I feel comfortable and safe to do so?

This will depend on the individual circumstances. You could firstly raise this with your employer informally if you feel the work place is unsafe. Should you not get the answer you had hoped for, then you could consider the more formal route of a grievance which could outline your concerns with regards to health and safety.

You could also consider speaking with your GP for some advice with regards to your medical history and whether they can give any recommendations or suggestions that you could put forward to your employer (if any). Should the risk be too high then a ‘fit note’ from the doctor may be an option. However, failure to have good reason for not returning to work could be considered as unauthorised absence. If you do have a genuine reason and health concerns that affect your ability to return to work, best practice would be to ensure that you have a letter or fit note confirming the need to remain off work due to the risks.

Remember these? They used to be called ‘TRAINS’. Dare-devils, nicknamed ‘commuters’, sometimes broke in and tried to travel on them! They didn’t usually get very far.

I have been asked to return to work but do not feel safe using public transport. Can I refuse to return or insist my employer pays/organises safe transport to and from work?

This is an unprecedented area, one that is unlikely to provide definitive guidance until cases begin to be held at Tribunals.

Although your employer does owe a duty of care to you and other members of staff, they do not have an obligation to arrange or pay for any safe transport to and from the work place (unless contractually obliged to) and this is generally not a reason to refuse to attend. However, as above, should you have any concerns around the safety of travelling back and forth to the work place, you could approach your employer and raise this with them. Individual circumstances may be considered, and certainly relevant at a Tribunal, for example someone with an underlying medical reason may be more justified in their refusal to use public transport based on health and safety grounds and thus having the additional protection provided by the Employment rights Act.

AND WHAT ABOUT MANDATORY VACCINATION?

DESLEY SHERWIN, senior associate at Roythornes Solicitors explains what the law says

“The long answer is that to force an employee to have a vaccination without consent could expose the employer to criminal charges of assault and battery. Employers must be mindful that some staff may suffer from severe allergies or have immune system disorders, meaning they cannot be vaccinated. Forcing such employees and other staff to have the vaccine might expose the employer to the risk of a civil claim for compensation over personal injury, should the employee suffer an adverse reaction.

From an employment law stance, mandatory vaccination requirements could lead to claims of fundamental breach of contract by existing staff, leading to the employee resigning and bringing a constructive unfair dismissal claim to a tribunal.  Although, in theory, this requirement could be introduced into the contracts of new recruits, other concerns discussed will still apply.

Claims may be raised of indirect or direct discrimination, where younger people who are waiting in line for the vaccination are prevented from attending work or taking up new roles through no fault of their own. Mandatory vaccination may also breach human rights law (in relation to the Article 8 right to a private and family life).

Other concerns and advice…

Another thing for companies to consider in relation to a vaccination policy is the possible adverse reputational damage that might be caused once disaffected staff voice their displeasure on social media. This might persuade customers, suppliers, and current or prospective staff to vote with their feet and go elsewhere.

“It remains of concern that the efficacy of the vaccination is not yet fully known. Although vaccination seems to reduce the chance of becoming ill if exposed to the virus, the extent to which transmission is reduced and for what period it remains effective, are still not fully understood.

“Instead of imposing a mandatory requirement for vaccination, employers are advised instead to encourage their staff to be vaccinated by providing information, holding informal question and answer sessions, encouraging staff to speak with HR or their GP to discuss their concerns, and to offer paid time off to attend vaccination appointments.”

APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK

Royds Withy King has appointed Mark Scott (pictured below) as a partner in its residential property practice in its London office. He joins from Blake Morgan where he was a legal director and head of the London residential property team. He was previously at Mishcon de Reya.

Scott has a 30-year track record in buying and selling prime residential in London, acting for wealthy individuals both in the UK and overseas, investors, private banks and family offices. Commenting on the current state of the market Scott said, “The past 16 months have been a particularly challenging environment for businesses and the people they employ. Yet the residential property market has held up and remains strong with encouraging forecasts for the year ahead and beyond. The demand for prime residential property both in central London and across the South East remains high and will continue as we emerge from the Covid pandemic.

Royds Withy King has a 60-strong residential property practice across its offices in London, Bath, Oxford and Swindon.

Addleshaw Goddard has appointed of Sarah Randall (pictured below) as a consultant in its competition team. Previously with BP plc, Randall was Global Head of Competition law, with responsibility for leading the in-house team and advising on cross-border M&A transactions, antitrust investigations, antitrust disputes and competition compliance. She is now just the latest in a series of appointments by Addleshaw Goddard intended to enhance its international and cross-border capabilities.

Bruce Kilpatrick, Addleshaw Goddard’s Head of Competition, said: “[Sarah’s] hire boosts our capacity across the broad range of antitrust matters on which we advise. Her skills will be invaluable in helping Boards to ensure they comply with increasingly complex and multi-faceted antitrust regimes both in the UK and internationally.

The Addleshaw Goddard competition team now comprises over 24 lawyers with significant international reach, assisting organisations with advice on merger control and antitrust across multiple industries and jurisdictions.

E-VENTS

Gaza – An International Law Perspective

Listen to the Matrix Law Pod’s latest episode

Due to the current conflict in Gaza, you might be interested in this week’s episode of the Matrix Law Pod which focuses on the current conflict in the region from an international law perspective. Richard Hermer QC speaks to Professor Andrew Clapham, an international human rights specialist, to provide an overview of the legal framework that governs not only the current hostilities but the overall legal context of the conflict.

BDB Pitman’s BREXIT WEBINAR SERIES: PUBLIC PROCUREMENT AND STATE AID AFTER BREXIT

Following the postponement of the second episode in our Brexit Webinar Series, we would like to invite you to the rescheduled event on Thursday 03 June 2021.

This session will draw attention to the changes to Public Procurement Law post-Brexit and consider the government’s direction of travel as suggested by the Green Paper.

We will also consider the new subsidies regime which has replaced the EU Law on State Aid and what public authorities and others should be alive to when subsidy issues arise.

 Topics we will discuss will include:

  • The new procurement landscape
  • Effect of the Public Procurement (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations
  • Issues to look out for
  • The government’s Green Paper-Transforming public procurement
  • State Aid is ‘no more’ – An outline of the new subsidies regime
  • The new legal framework
  • How to approach a subsidy concern

The session will conclude with the opportunity for Q&A from the audience.

Register for your place by clicking here or by using the RSVP button on this mailing. If you have any colleagues that may also be interested in this session, please forward on this invite.

The session will be held using Zoom, a link will be sent to you in your registration confirmation email and will also be re-sent on the morning of the webinar.

We hope you can join us.

Follow us @BDBPitmans #BuildingBetter

We do hope that you have found this edition of the Legal Diary interesting (and occasionally amusing). If so please pass it on – or alert – your colleagues.

Meanwhile, please keep sending your Diary news, comments and insights to

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

We look forward to appearing next Friday – but will then have a week away in sunny…

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Friday May 14 2021 Edition 57

Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and e-vents from the legal world

SHORT THOUGHT OF THE WEEK – ALL PRESENT AND DISTRESSED

100+ Time Pictures | Download Free Images & Stock Photos on Unsplash
Time is too short

Last weekend The Sunday Times ran a long and detailed article which painted a grim picture of the misery faced by many young lawyers in the City’s leading law firms. Rather than being improved by being allowed to work from home their lives were made much worse by the expectation of being constantly on-line with their availability traceable around the clock. They were in the bizarre position of being both totally isolated yet permanently under surveillance.

The compensation for this, of course, is mouthwatering salaries beyond the wildest imaginings of their contemporaries who might have gone into teaching, the civil service or even medicine. But the real irony of this is that the people who run law firms know how to say all the right things and put in place the semblance of support systems. But the truth seem to be that the old laws prevail. It’s the survival of the fittest, those who are the most determined and those with the greatest stamina. The rest will fall by the wayside. And it is not just in the UK. As reported just this week, one in four women attorneys in the US consider leaving the law because of mental health problems. In short, is being a corporate lawyer a sane way of life? Maybe it’s time to come clean about that.

The LegalDiarist

Please keep sending your news, insights and comment to fennell.edward@yahoo.com

In this week’s edition

+ THE LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

– Modern Slavery Charity takes LawWorks Accolade

– EID Comes Nocking

– Romanians Show Promise

Innovative Approach to Innovation

+ CONTRIBUTED ARTICLES OF THE WEEK

– PUT A STOP TO TIKTOK?

– SUPPORT AFTER MISCARRIAGE

– FAKING IT ONLINE

– TIME TO SCATTER FROM E-SCOOTERS?

– BANG-TO-RIGHTS FOR FOOTBALL BROADCASTING

E-VENTS

THE LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

Modern Slavery Charity takes LawWorks Accolade

Alumni | King's alumni | King's College London
KIng’s speaks for Itself

Earlier this week LawWorks announced the winners of its 2021LawWorks and Attorney General Student Pro Bono Awards sponsored by Lexis Nexis. Amongst the various awards the one that caught the eye of the LegalDiarist was ‘Best new pro bono activity’ which was scooped by the Protea Clinic, King’s Legal Clinic, King’s College London

This is a collaborative project set up by King’s Legal Clinic, Hammersmith and Fulham Law Centre and Hibiscus Initiatives to offer high quality legal advice for vulnerable migrant females, including foreign national prisoners, and to help identify and assist victims of modern slavery. “Service users come from very complex backgrounds and often experience mental health difficulties, language and cultural barriers, poverty, gender-based abuse, loneliness, homelessness and involvement with the criminal justice system,” said the citation. “These multiple disadvantages often mean that their immigration cases are complex and not easily resolved, so the students’ work is extremely challenging.”

The awards were presented by the Attorney General, the Rt Hon Michael Ellis QC, at an online ceremony.

EID Comes Nocking

Nokia Neo 130 Black
Call Me Out?

Eversheds Sutherland, Roschier, Bird & Bird, Quinn Emanuel, McKool Smith, and Alston & Bird are the first group of law firms to take part in the new EID (Equality, Inclusivity, and Diversity) Scorecard initiative from Nokia designed to assess EID progress made by the company’s panel of law firms.

The quarterly and annual assessments will help Nokia to make positive change outside of its organization with scoring based on a range of criteria including recruitment policies, equality of pay, the availability of mentoring and pro bono initiatives, and the presence of a dedicated E, I&D team.

“As a signatory of the European Round Table of Industrialists’ Inclusion & Diversity pledge, Nokia is committed to supporting every aspect of diversity in the workplace,” said the company, “whether through its work with external organizations such as Greenlight for Girls or through internal support networks such as OUTLeaders and EQUAL! for LGBT+ colleagues and allies.”

Another example of consumer power.

Romanians Show Resolve

While law firms from most EU countries are steering clear of London right now it is encouraging to see that the Romanian outfit MPR Partners, a multidisciplinary firm focused on commercial law especially in the CEE, is gearing up for a London opening within the next few weeks.

The London office will be headed by the firm’s co-founder and co-managing partner Alina Popescu (above) with the objective, it says, “Of supporting clients with operations across the UK and the EU, bridging the geographical gap during the Brexit transition and beyond.”

Popescu added that she and her colleagues see ‘a wealth of opportunities in London’ and hope to start local hires soon. “London has always been our benchmark in terms of quality of service and competitiveness,” she comments. “With Brexit and the ensuing opportunities, the new office is a natural step forward that will meet our existing clients’ demand for law firms with international presence and hopefully help us to tap into new markets.” 

Gelu Maravel, co-founder and co-managing partner, added, “The peculiar context we have been living in for over a year has made us realise the ever growing importance of innovation, transboundary reach, on-site approach and accessibility. Though it may seem like an ambitious move at this time, looking back at the numerous achievements of our past years together, MPR Partners has always been a bold firm to begin with – and we do not plan this to change anytime soon. We are thrilled to be opening an international office in London, a visionary city that boasts unparalleled legal expertise and a huge potential for business.”

Sentiments to warm the heart of Boris Johnson no doubt.

Innovative Approach to Innovation at Dechert

May be an image of 10 people and people smiling
A pretty innovative bunch

Dechert is launching a new, independently certified Innovation Program in partnership with innovation and design company, IDEO. Announced during the firm’s second annual Innovation Week, the program is part of a broader innovation effort at the firm, which includes an Innovation Training Curriculum. This is designed to give Dechert attorneys and business professionals proven skills and techniques to support innovative thinking and behaviors and help the firm to partner with clients even more effectively to solve their greatest business and legal challenges.

The programme include four modules of structured innovation training covering: (1) creative problem-solving, (2) client-centric service delivery, (3) effective pricing and matter management techniques, and (4) digital literacy.This forms a central plank in the Critical Skills Framework, a key professional development competency model that the firm uses to recruit, train, evaluate, and promote its people.

During its inaugural year, the program will be open to 40 lawyers and business services professionals. The program will then be conducted annually, with a planned increase in the number of participants.Sounds formidable and maybe a challenge for other firms to keep up. 

https://www.ideo.com/about/ideo-at-a-glance

Travers Smith’s Russ officially an ‘Ally’

“It is hugely heartening to see leaders from a range of industries working towards creating more inclusive workplace for people of colour across the world,” says INvolve, a global consultancy championing diversity and inclusion. And one of the people now recognised for her contribution to this endeavour is Travers Smith’s Senior Partner, Kathleen Russ.

Russ is now included in the EMPower list of ‘effective allies’ alongside other leaders committed to using their influence to advance equality for all. Amongst her endeavours have been

  • Delivering anti-racism and effective allyship training for all staff and partners.
  • Creating platforms for minority ethnic, but particularly black, people at the firm to convene in a safe space, and also providing wellbeing resources for those affected by the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Partnering with human rights charity JUSTICE on the production of Tackling Racial Injustice: Children and the Youth Justice System, a report on racial disparities of children in the youth justice system.
  • Signing up to Rare Recruitment’s Race Fairness Commitment and the Law Firm Anti-Racism Alliance (LFAA) to promote racial equity in the law.

In addition, as part of the firm’s wider work in promoting inclusion for black and ethnic minority people, Kathleen hosted a firm wide ‘Celebration of Black Music’ during Black History Month (Oct 2020).

“Recognising that it is not the responsibility of people from minority groups to create a fairer society,” said Russ. “we continue to focus our efforts on fighting racial inequality by empowering our people to become more effective allies to people from ethnic minority backgrounds, both within the firm and wider society.”

For more see https://empower.involverolemodels.org/poll/2021-top-50-advocates/

CONTRIBUTED ARTICLES OF THE WEEK

LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK

CARING AFTER MISCARRIAGE 

A growing number of employers are now offering their employees paid leave after pregnancy loss. KATE HINDMARCH, partner in Employment Law at Langleys Solicitors argues that more organisations should follow their example in breaking the taboo and giving support at this sad and stressful time.

It’s promising to see several big organisations taking the first steps towards normalising conversations around this type of loss, ensuring that those who need it are receiving the correct support. I hope to see more businesses of all sizes follow suit.

 While it’s great that these organisations are taking the lead on providing women and their partners the safety net of paid leave, there are still a lot of places where this subject is taboo, and employees struggle to prompt conversations around their own circumstances. As a result, many women and men have been left without support during what can be a very traumatic experience, as more than one in five pregnancies, sadly, ends in miscarriage.

Currently, there is no legal requirement to offer paid miscarriage leave for a woman or her partner, and there is a lot of variation in policies between workplaces. In some organisations, the only option for those affected is to take pregnancy-related sick leave, that is often paid at a fraction of their normal wage. This means that they will have the added stress of dealing with the loss of earnings while trying to grieve.

More businesses introducing policies that make it easier for people to broach the subject, and encourage them to take the time off they need, is a great way to remove the stigma around this loss. Following these recent high-profile organisations updating their procedures, we should hopefully start to see others doing the same, ensuring that those who need it are receiving the correct support in their time of need.

FAKING IT ONLINE

TIM FASSAM, Director of Government Relations and Policy at the Personal Investment Management & Financial Advice Association (PIMFA), welcomes publication of the Online Safety Bill but urges Government to do more to tackle clone investment fraud and fake online adverts

The publication of the Online Safety Bill in its current form is a great step forward in the battle to stop organised criminals defrauding the public.

But while the Bill attempts to tackle fraud via user generated content on social media sites and dating apps, paid for online adverts from fraudsters and cloned – and therefore fake – investment firm websites appear conspicuous by their absence from it.

We are, however, encouraged that the Bill will face pre-legislative scrutiny before being formally introduced to the House of Commons and look forward to working with Ministers and MPs in order to ensure that all financial harms, which have a devasting impact on the financial and mental wellbeing of victims, are included in the Bill.

As we, and our partners, have said from the beginning of this campaign, social media websites, search engines and domain name registration services all need to take responsibility for preventing online fraudsters from operating on their platforms.

PIMFA is the trade association for firms that provide investment management, investment services and advice to everyone from individuals and families to charities, pension funds, trusts and companies.

TIME TO SCATTER FROM E-SCOOTERS?

Following a spate of personal injury claims as a result of reckless e-scooter users, ROB DEMPSEY personal injury lawyer at Roythornes Solicitors, states his concerns about the scheme and how the government could make changes going forwards.

We’re coming for you

We are now approaching the halfway mark in the initial 12-month trial of e-scooter rentals across Britain, an appropriate time to assess its success, or lack thereof.

The trials were rolled out as part of the innovative ‘Transport Zones’ policies, which were given a fresh impetus by the pandemic in the hope of reducing public transport use. It has subsequently seen the use of rental schemes spread to more than 50 towns and cities – much more than the four transport zones originally envisaged.

Early Concerns ——

When the trial began, the law was changed to allow e-scooters on the streets, within the narrow parameters of the rental schemes, and a number of safety concerns were raised. Inexperienced users could find themselves on busy roads and cycle paths and the small wheels on the e-scooters are particularly vulnerable to potholes.

However, it seems that the most significant danger is to pedestrians. Numerous reports across the country have given examples of pedestrians being struck by e-scooters or vulnerable road users falling over abandoned scooters in the street resulting in serious injury.

Figures indicate around 70 injuries have arisen during the trial period so far. There are also reports of people riding the scooters whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol. None of these can be a surprise and all were cited as potential risks before the trials began. Indeed, a pedestrian in Kent suffered a fractured leg, fractured arm and shattered elbow as a result of being hit by an e-scooter, describing it as “being hit by a car.”

Learning Points?—

So the question remains; Could we have prevented these injuries, and what can we learn from them?

When the consultation process for the introduction of rental e-scooters was underway, it was mooted that scooters should weigh no more than 35kg and have a maximum speed of 12.5 mph. This was supported by safety campaigners and so when it was eventually announced the scooters could weigh up to 55kg with a maximum speed of 15.5mph, it seemed a victory for the supporters of scooters over safety campaigners. The potential implications are clear. A sturdy mountain bike weighs around only 12kg, more than 40kg lighter than an e-scooter.

Whilst the Department of Transport took responsibility for the design and construction of the scooters to be allowed on the roads, they took a lighter touch with other aspects of their use, leaving local authorities and private rental companies to address issues such as where scooters can be parked, how many should be used, and to what extent users should receive training. This begs the question as to whether there should be a more uniform national approach.

As part of the ongoing review, Transport Nottingham considered the scheme to mark the halfway point of the trial. They acknowledged that whilst there was some support for the scheme (a daily average of more than 1,500 riders in the last two months), not everything has gone well, with inconsiderate parking, illegal or dangerous use, and drunk riding being singled out.

Safety campaigners would say this is no surprise – in fact it was anticipated and cited as a concern before the scheme was introduced. The Nottingham example shows, however, that a significant emphasis is being put on the e-scooter providers themselves to address these issues rather than as part of a wider government strategy, with the rental company sharing educational videos on the app, suspending accounts where there has been misuse and employing ‘ambassadors’ to monitor the use of the scooters.

Confusion—

The introduction of the rental schemes has led to confusion and the mistaken belief that e-scooters in general are now legal in the U.K. They are not. Their use outside the scheme on public roads will result in fines and penalty points on your licence, yet they are still a common sight on Britain’s roads.

Major retailers are playing their part in this. The introduction of the trials coincided with displays in shops selling e-scooters and insurance companies are now offering bespoke insurance for individual e-scooter use, which validates e-scooters as an accepted part of Britain’s roads alongside motorcycles and cars.

This adds to the feeling of inevitability that one day, e-scooters will be a common feature on our roads, especially now the genie is out of the bottle with the rental schemes. Even if e-scooters are not legalised for the general public, it is unlikely the rental schemes will be abandoned. Infrastructure has been put in place and rental schemes are common across Europe.

With that in mind, the focus should be on closer monitoring of use, some level of formalised training before use, and penalties for misuse. Whether these powers should be with rental companies or government is open to discussion.”

For more information visit www.roythornes.co.uk or follow @roythornes on Twitter.

BANG-TO-RIGHTS FOR FOOTBALL BROADCASTING

The crazy world of football governance and financing continues to be in the news following the Premier League’s agreement to extend the current television broadcast deal, says ALEX HAFFNER, Partner, Corporate Department, Fladgate LLP.

Big Tv Screen With Landscape Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free Image.  Image 23463527.
Somewhere out there ManU is playing Liverpool

The news that the Premier League has secured approval for a three year renewal of its TV rights deal, without the need for any auction – as would usually be necessary to ensure compliance by the EPL with competition law rules – shows how football as an industry continues to weigh heavily on the political and economic landscape. Equally interesting is the precedent this exclusion could set for other industries that may be knocking on the door of government seeking similar treatment in the near future.

The context for the decision was that given the current economic climate and also industry specific developments (eg BT Sport reportedly being up for sale) meant that there was a risk of domestic media rights values being depressed. So getting the same overall value as last time around without the risks of auction was seen as a deal worth taking – especially with all the clubs having taken such a financial hit during Covid and being so reliant on media rights income.

 The Premier League has effectively paid to get an otherwise, anticompetitive deal over the line at a time when clubs would have been very nervous in testing both relations within existing broadcast partners, who have shown relative patience and support throughout COVID, as well as the wider market in terms of values.

 The price paid, of course, is a cool £100m to the lower level of the football pyramid below EPL. The interesting question is whether this is a one off and linked to the now scrapped ESL project, or whether this is the start of a genuine increase in the sharing of wealth amongst the entire football community and a sign of things to come in terms of government policy and approach.

PUT A STOP TO TIKTOK?

Will the law stall the ever-upwards growth of TikTok asks Jon Belcher

The video-sharing app TikTok enjoyed spectacular growth during the pandemic and now has over 800 million users worldwide. The app’s parent company, ByteDance, has been valued at US$400 billion ahead of a potential public offering. However, the company is now facing a multi-billion pound UK court case for alleged mishandling of children’s personal data.

The lead claimant is an anonymous 12 year old girl from the UK, who is supported by former children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield. The case is being brought under UK data protection law as a representative action on behalf of all children under 16 across the EU (or under 13 in the UK), who have used the TikTok app since the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation came into force on 25 May 2018. An adverse ruling could see the company pay damages to millions of users.

The case poses a significant threat to TikTok and unsurprisingly, the company promises to fight it vigorously. Although still at an early stage, the outcome may hinge on the forthcoming judgment in a recent UK Supreme Court case, Lloyd v Google, which will determine the viability of large-scale representative actions under data protection law.

If it proceeds, the TikTok case could be the first of many such claims amid a global trend towards ever tighter regulation of social media and tech platforms. TikTok has already been fined in the US and South Korea for mishandling children’s data. In the UK, the government has recently published an Online Harms Bill, while TikTok and other online services will already be working to comply with a new UK code of practice which sets out mandatory standards of age appropriate design. The code, produced by the Information Commissioner’s Office, applies to apps, social media platforms and websites likely to be accessed by children. Whatever the outcome of the case against TikTok, the processing of data about children will remain in the spotlight for some time to come.

Jon Belcher is a specialist data protection and information governance lawyer at Excello Law www.excellolaw.co.uk

Maybe it’s over?












E_VENT THE BINGHAM CENTRE FOR THE RULE OF LAW

Marking the conclusion of the “Power and the COVID-19 Pandemic” Symposium, this webinar series brings together contributors from around to the world to discuss the impact of the pandemic on law and governance, drawing on five transversal themes: human rights; democracy; the rule of law; science and decision-making; and the impact of an extended emergency.

WEBINAR 5: “Quo Vadis? – The impact of an extended pandemic”
Friday, 14 May 2021  | 14:00 – 15.30 BST / 15.00 – 16.30 CEST 
 

How has COVID-19 impacted upon legal and political systems; minorities and indigenous peoples; and conflict-affected states in transition? This final panel debates themes of trust, equality, conflict and power, and concludes with a commentary by the convenor of the Symposium who will draw together key findings, emergent threats, and reasons for hope.

REGISTER

We hope that you have found this edition of the Legal Diary interesting. If so, please relay on to colleagues.

And please continue sending your news, views, insights and commentaries to

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Friday 7th May 2021 Edition 56

Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and e-vents from the legal world

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK – WHO NEEDS ELECTIONS?

Hands Up if you know a good lawyer

If, by the time you read this, the results of the Scottish election are known and the SNP has fallen short of its hoped-for IndyRef2 majority then please stop reading now and pass on to the rest of the Legal Diary below. But if the result is still unknown or if the SNP is feeling empowered to demand a second referendum then feel free to remain.

Yesterday The Times ran a typically brilliant cartoon by Peter Brookes featuring divorcing couple B. Johnson and N. Sturgeon sharing a sofa but gesturing rudely at each other. Gloating over them was a troop of grinning lawyers and the legend, ‘The most expensive divorce in history!’

If, over the next five years, the Scots decide to opt out then for sure the DisUniting Kingdom will need all the lawyer power that London and Edinburgh can muster. But rather than thinking of it as a divorce let’s consider it as a de-merger. The less emotion and the more calm lawyering the better. Sadly, Westminster politicians made a botch of the Brexit negotiations because they were driven by simplistic slogans. If it comes to a Scexit then let’s hope some canny lawyers can make a better job of it.

The LegalDiarist

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

IN THIS WEEK’S EDITION

+ THE LEGAL DIARY

The Good News is – Fewer PI Problems Than Expected

The Bad News Is Even Fewer Criminal Practitioners Than Needed

Some Up, Some Down – The Crazy Legal Market

– Unwanted Guest List? {When visiting the UAE]

Irwin Mitchell Brings a Breath of Fresh Air

+ LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK – TO PRE-NUP OR NOT TO PRE-NUP

+ APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK

Twenty Essex, Harneys, BDB Pitmans

+E-VENTS

THE LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

The Good News is – Fewer PI Problems Than Expected

Statistics come in raw but they can be cooked up in lots of different ways. Hence this week’s figures from Hazlewoods, Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers, on the number of law firms unable to meet their PI insurance bills have been presented in some quarters of the legal press as alarmingly high. But there is another interpretation which offers proof, maybe, that there is much greater resilience in the legal industry than expected

“Given the rising costs of PI Insurance in conjunction with the economic effects of Covid, there were fears that more firms would be unable to afford the mandatory PI insurance,” says Hazelwoods.

In reality, however, just 60 law firms have had to close through being unable to secure insurance. And although this is 50% more than last year it is far fewer than had been anticipated. “The legal profession overall has handled the pandemic and the rising cost of PI Insurance very well,” comments Andy Harris, Partner at Hazlewoods. “These setbacks could have prompted a bigger increase in closures but most firms have seen much better than expected cashflow over the last 12 months. This is thanks to the deferral of tax and VAT payments last year and the availability of cheap borrowings through the Bounce Back and CBILS loan schemes, which have allowed them to pay their PI premiums.”

What’s remarkable is that this is despite the fact that there have been no new entrants into the legal/PI insurance market offering seductive deals. The bounce back looks promising.

The Bad News Is There Are Even Fewer Criminal Practitioners Than Needed

Do these people even still exist?

Consistent warnings to Government about the state of the criminal legal aid have been ignored to the point where, according to the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, the work no longer offers a ‘sustainable career’. As a result the stability of the entire system is now under threat.

This is not new news. What is striking, however, is the scale of the exodus. CILEX has seen a steady decline in the number of its practitioners choosing criminal law as their long-term career path to the point that there are now 50% fewer members electing to study criminal law than in 2012. “This contrasts with those qualifying into areas such as conveyancing and civil litigation, where numbers of new entrants have continued to rise,” says the Institute.

Without trivialising the issue it must be said that the way criminal lawyers are characterised on TV is not helping. Recent transmissions of Line of Duty, for example, have depicted them as either sleepy and dishevelled or plain dodgy. For its part CILEX expresses concerns about the impact of political rhetoric around ‘lefty lawyers’ and ‘do-gooders’, which appears to discredit certain parts of the legal profession, further undermining the good will on which the system increasingly relies.

The result is, “A gradual departure of talented professionals from the defence sector as they become more and more attracted to the higher wages and greater job security offered by institutions such as the Crown Prosecution Service.”

For its own part CILEX has a gripe that its members face barriers to progression in criminal law, whether in defence ot prosecution. This includes rules that prevent CILEX practitioners from becoming Crown Prosecutors and the lack of recognition entrenched within the Criminal Litigation Accreditation Scheme, which fails to account for the level of training and competence that CILEX Advocates possess.

 “These restrictions have the notable effect of limiting opportunities and career growth for CILEX Lawyers. The opportunities available to students and junior lawyers in pursuing a career in criminal legal aid are restricted from the outset and this drives some out of the sector and harms the pipeline of talent needed to meet the demands of the criminal justice system.”

Predictions of a collapse in the system have been long in the making. But maybe it will just be death through lack of conviction.

Some Up, Some Down – The Crazy Legal Market

To contextualise further the two previous stories the latest Gross Legal Product (GLP) Index figures from LexisNexis show that overall year-on-year, the legal market contracted by 4.3% during 2020. However, while Criminal Litigation declined by 7.1% Risk & Compliance work grew by 22% – with double digit growth in every quarter! In other words, it is a story of two completely different businesses operating within what is nominally the same profession.

Here are some other examples. Civil Litigation fell by 35% but Family Litigation  in Q4 2020 grew by 9% (presumably showing the pent-up exasperation arising from lock-down). Meanwhile, Commercial levelled out at 11% growth and Employment was up at +6.2%. Competition saw a 10% contraction, due to decline in M&As and global trade.

Perhaps the figure of most significance was that Restructuring & Insolvency activity fell by 18%. Clearly this is an indication of time standing still during Covid. But surely there will be an explosion ahead – unless the Chancellor of the Exchequer really has pulled off a miracle.

“Anyone interested in practice development and planning should take a first look at the Index,“ said Barry Ó’Néill McAlinden, Barrister at Field Court Chambers.

The latest report can be downloaded from www.lexisnexis.co.uk/research-and-reports/gross-legal-product-index-q1-2021.html

Unwanted Guest List?

“I said I’d never go back!”

Courtesy of Carter-Ruck here’s a quartet of jolly guys you might want to avoid on your next trip to the fun-filled UAE.

Counsellor Saqr Saif Al Naqbi, formerly the head of State Security, Public Prosecution in Abu Dhabi

Major-General Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi, formerly Commander in Chief of the Abu Dhabi police

Major-General Ahmed Naser Ahmed Alrais Al Raisi, Inspector General in the Ministry of the Interior; and

Ali Mohammed Hamad Hammad Al Shamsi, a senior intelligence official in the UAE.

British academic Matthew Hedges is claiming damages in the High Court against these four beauties on the grounds of assault, false imprisonment and the intentional infliction of psychiatric injury which occurred during the course of his detention in Abu Dhabi, UAE from 5 May 2018 to 26 November 2018.

“My fight for justice continues and my lawyers have filed a case in the civil courts in order to hold those responsible to account,” says Mr Hedges. “I hope it will ensure that what happened to me should never be allowed to happen again.”

An admirable but somewhat vain aspiration one suspects.

Irwin Mitchell Brings In a Breath of Fresh Air

The vulnerability of people with asthma to very serious illness has been brought into stark relief by Covid so the timing could not be better for Irwin Mitchell to form a new three-year partnership with Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation (BLF).

The main aim of th partnership is to enhance support services available to people living with lung disease by helping with the running of a network of 150 volunteer-led support groups around the UK.

Already the firm has been supporting people affected by lung conditions either through workplace illness or illness-related injury.  Now it will be supporting specific BLF activities including a Volunteer Conference for the group support leaders to celebrate their achievements, recognise their contributions and provide further training and networking opportunities.

“Sadly through our work, we often see the terrible consequences respiratory illnesses, such as silicosis and asthma, can have on people and their families,” said David Johnston-Keay, a specialist lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, “We’re proud to be partnering Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation to raise awareness of the symptoms of respiratory illnesses and of the need for businesses to uphold health and safety laws.”

Jatinder Paul, also a specialist lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, added, “It’s vital that people with respiratory illness don’t feel they have to suffer in silence. Help and support, which can make a real difference to people’s lives, is available.”

Emphasising the importance of the role of support groups Sarah Woolnough, the Chief Executive of Asthma UK and the BLF, said, “For people with lung disease, the pandemic has been a particularly worrying and isolating time, with many forced to shield for months on end.  Throughout this time, the BLF support groups and the volunteers who run them, have continued to be more than just a support network, but a lifeline.”

LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK –

TO PRE-NUP OR NOT TO PRE-NUP (THAT IS WHEN YOU POP THE QUESTION)

Insert Pre-Nup Here Image Courtesy Kraft Elder Law

Suddenly divorce is a la mode in the Billionaires Club. Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie breaking up after 25 years was perhaps not so surprising. But for the saintly Gates’ duo it seems more of a jolt. Could it be the result of being crammed together with nowhere to go on a thousand acre ranch during lockdown? More importantly for the lawyers, however, is what happens next to all the money.

It appears that Bill and Melinda Gates decided against having a prenup, which is incredibly unusual in such a massive-money case,” said David Thompson, Family Partner, at JMW Solicitors, “Very wisely, they already have a separation agreement in place and are asking a court in Seattle to approve it. However, the court in Seattle will not be bound to accept, and make legally-binding, the separation agreement, whereas a pre-nup would almost certainly have been rubber-stamped by the judge. More details are awaited as to why they took this very different route.

 “Without any agreement, or pre-nup, in place, the Seattle court would very likely have divided all the assets 50/50, especially given the long marriage (nearly 30 years) and the fact that most of the assets were built up during the marriage and they have three children together.

 “Bill and Melinda say they will continue to work together on their Foundation, but this would be a rare example of divorced couples continuing to have such close financial ties with each other in the next stage of their lives; certainly, many courts prefer a complete ‘clean-break’ so the parties can hit the reset button without their ex-spouse hovering over every decision they make about their futures.”

So there could be a lesson here for the thousands of frustrated would-be weds who will now start to pour into registry offices and sacred buildings and spaces around the country.

“The UK is facing a wedding boom over the next 18 months and a renewed interest in prenuptial agreements,” says Collyer Bristow.

Indeed, according to a report earlier this year by the trade body UK Weddings Taskforce it is estimated that some 824,000 weddings are planned for 2021 and 2022, following the postponement of 95% of weddings planned for 2020. [“I know!” says the LegalDiarist. “My neice’s wedding was postponed twice. It’s now happening later this month.”]

And, apparently, the spike in weddings is being matched by a renewed interest in prenuptial agreements. “A wedding is one of life’s great moments and bitterly disappointed couples had little choice but to delay the start of their new lives, “ observes Toby Yerburgh, Partner and Head of Family at Collyer Bristow. “But as those plans are revisited and wedding celebrations prepared, we are seeing a renewed interest in prenuptial agreements as part of financial planning for a life together.”

Whilst historically the preserve of the rich and famous, continues Yerburgh, prenups are now increasingly seen as sensible financial planning by couples wishing to protect pre-acquired assets, business interests, property, an inheritance and children from earlier relationships.

“Prenups, like a will, provide couples with security, clarity and certainty in the future for both parties,” adds Yerburgh.

Bet Bill is kicking himself.

APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK

TWENTY ESSEX

Professor Hi-Taek Shin

Professor Hi-Taek Shin is joining Twenty Essex as a full-time arbitrator. He will continue to reside and conduct his practice from Seoul, Korea. Until 2007, he was a senior partner at leading Korean law firm, Kim & Chang, specialising in cross-border transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and shareholders’ agreements and various commercial transactions. Since 2018, he has been serving as the Chairman of KCAB INTERNATIONAL, the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board’s international division.

“I look forward to joining my fellow arbitrators at Chambers and begin the next phase of my career endeavours to better serve for the effective and efficient resolution of international disputes,” says Prof. Shin.

BDB PITMANS

BDB Pitmans has appointed two new Legal Directors to its private client practice.

Lorna du Sautoy (above left) joins from Macfarlanes LLP, where she practiced as a Senior Solicitor in private client property for nearly eight years. Lorna has an extensive client base, providing practical and quality advice to prime and super prime London residential property and other luxury property assets. Her international clientele includes high net worth individuals and their companies, overseas as well as institutional investors, family offices, charities, banks, and trusts.

Sophie St. John (above right) re-joins the firm from RSM Legal LLP where she was a partner leading RSM’s private client legal services team. Before that she spent four years at a leading financial institution as in-house legal counsel supporting their global trust business. She has a wide range of experience within many aspects of private wealth, and regularly advises UK residents – as well as international, wealthy individuals, their families, and trustees on a wide range of UK legal and tax issues.

“The private wealth practice continues to be an important cornerstone of our business,” says Andrew Smith, Managing Partner at BDB Pitmans. “[Lorna and Sophie’s] global client base fits perfectly with our ambitious plans for growth as an outward-facing, internationally-minded, modern law firm.”

HARNEYS

Peter Ferrer

Harneys, the largest law firm based in the British Virgin Islands, has appointed Peter Ferrer as Co-Head of Litigation, Insolvency and Restructuring where he will jointly lead the team alongside Partner Phillip Kite.

Ferrer has  acted on behalf of institutions, companies, corporate entities and high net worth individuals. He is an experienced trial lawyer and has extensive experience of asset tracing and enforcement. He also heads the firm’s BVI-based Russian and CIS team and is consistently ranked by leading directories. Prior to joining Harneys BVI in 2016, he practised as a barrister. “As the firm broadens its international offering, I look forward to watching the success of this collaborative partnership.” said Chairman Peter Tarn.

E-VENTS

BINGHAM CENTRE FOR THE RULE OF LAW

WEBINAR 1: “Human Rights and the COVID-19 Pandemic”
Wednesday, 12 May 2021  |  09:00 – 10.30 BST / 10.00 – 11.30 CEST
  

COVID-19 – and state responses to it – present a threat to human rights unparalleled in the contemporary era. At the same time, human rights offer a universal framework which guides decision-makers, ensures accountability for their actions and omissions, and renders visible the structural inequalities which drives the pandemic’s differential impact on certain communities. Looking forward, this panel discusses how human rights can be used to underpin a just and sustainable post-pandemic recovery.

REGISTER

——————————-

WEBINAR 2: “Democracy and Disruption”
Thursday, 13 May 2021  |  08:00 – 09.30 BST / 09.00 – 10.30 CEST 
  

How has democracy been impacted by over a year of pandemic response and emergency? How have states ensured the democratic accountability of their actions in response to the global health emergency? What lessons can be learned for now, and for the future? This panel examines democratic practices, and highlights the best – and most concerning – developments.

REGISTER

——————————–

WEBINAR 3: “Science, Law and Decision Making”
Thursday, 13 May 2021  |  14:00 – 15.30 BST / 15.00 – 16.30 CEST 

Bringing together experts representing states who have adopted divergent attitudes to the role of science in law and decision-making, as well as an examination of vaccination policy, equity and individual choice, this panel considers the complex policy choices, rationales and politics which interplay in decision-making during a pandemic.

REGISTER

————————————–

We hope that you’ve found this edition of the Legal Diary interesting.

If so please relay on to colleagues.

Also please send in your news, views and insights to:

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

And whatever your political allegiance enjoy all the fun of the election results!

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Friday April 30 2021 Edition 55

Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and e-vents from the legal world

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK – WHO DID YOU SAY YOU ARE?

All solicitors cut from the same cloth?

‘Even the biggest law firm brands are relatively unknown to the broader population’ according to the results of a recent survey. So should law firms – and those who work for them – be relieved at that? Or will their egos be deflated?

Law firms and their solicitors are not actors on their own account. It is their clients who make the news – whether that be in a high profile criminal case or a big business bust-up. However the survey result does have wider implications about the status of lawyers in relation to both the law itself and the wider community. When Nigel Boardman the former head honcho at Slaughter and May was appointed recently to lead the inquiry into the Greensill lobbying controversy most people familiar with City law would have been impressed. After all, you could not get much better than the top person at Slaughters. Yet it did not seem to cut much ice with the wider community. Neither the integrity of the investigation nor the quality of the findings seemed to be guaranteed by names which are platinum to most of the readers of this Legal Diary. Indeed, some political commentators said the appointment was another example of the ‘cronyism’ which was what the Greensill issue was all about.

It is rare for solicitors to be in the limelight. Even Dr Neil Hudgell of Hudgell Solicitors (one of the champions of the Sub-Postmasters and mistresses) was only fleetingly on our screens recently. Whether that is right or fair or clever is a matter worth pondering,

The LegalDiarist

Please send you diary news, legal comments, insights and events to

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

In this week’s edition

+ LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

– ‘The Charter for Black Talent is not another tick-box exercise’

– New ‘Reports Legal’ Shimmers

– Straight-talking in Brussels?  

– A Case of ‘No Comment’ on pensions leak

– Righteous Pensions – Small pensions fund need help

Just Doing the Right Thing at Reed Smith

+ LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK

THE POST OFFICE SCANDAL: THE BEGINNING OF THE END?

+ SPECIAL REPORT OF THE WEEK – SUIT YOURSELF

Here, there, anywhere or everywhere – where works best?

+ APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK

BCLP and Kennedys

+ E-VENTS

Linklaters

LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

The Charter for Black Talent is not another tick-box exercise’

Brick Court’s Harry Matovu QC

Brick Court QC Harry Matovu is one of the brains behind the new Charter for Black Talent in Finance and the Professions which has just received the backing of the Bar Council (as well as the four Inns of Court and several Chambers including Brick Court itself). The focus of the Charter is to facilitate career progression into more senior roles for black professionals. “The recognition of talented Black professionals and their promotion to positions of leadership in business and the professions is long overdue, and the fact that the Charter has the support of other sectors gives this initiative real weight. The Bar Council is proud to support it,” said Derek Sweeting QC, Chair of the Bar Council.

It is the controversial Sewell Report which provides something of a backdrop to the Charter. “The support of the Bar Council could not come at a more important time,” says Matovu. “It seems curious that the Sewell Report should boast about ‘the onward march of minorities into positions of power and responsibility in professions such as the law and medicine’, when that is not a picture of our profession that most of us at the Bar would recognise, particularly given the statistics for Black barristers in the highest-earning areas of practice at the Bar. 

“Equality of opportunity is fundamental to any true meritocracy, and as we begin to emerge from the events of the last year, the Bar must hold itself to the highest of standards in this area, whatever position others may take. The Charter for Black Talent is not another tick-box exercise.  Many senior executives and partners in the financial and professional services sectors have confirmed that it has the ability to drive real and lasting change in the recruitment and progression of talented Black professionals to senior grades.  So I hope the Bar will unanimously support the Charter. If not now, when?”

If not now, when?’ is one of those perennial questions hanging over the desire for change. The answer hinges on the significance of what has gone before. It will take the historians to judge whether events of the past year have been a decisive catalyst in transforming opportunities.

Find out more about the Charter for Black Talent in Finance and the Professions.

 Hear more on the Charter in this London First podcast interview with Harry Matovu QC.

 More information on the work of the Bar Council’s Race Working Group.

Reports Legal’ Shimmers

Even in the crowded market for legal journalism there is always room for a new approach. So definitely worth following up on the new REPORTS LEGAL led by Dominic Carman whose theme is ‘in-depth reports examining work done by international law firms across a variety of markets and sectors’.

Topics covered by the current edition include the state of Hong Kong, Gibraltar (‘a hub for crypto entrepreneurs’) and SPACs – plus some rather delightful off-shore elite firms. It’s glossy and beautifully presented as an E-magazine so it’s no surprise that its already attracting some great advertising. And it’s FREE.

Go to https://reportslegal.com/offshore-report-april-2021/

Straight-talking in Brussels?  

Can anything good come out of Brussels? In post-Brexit, post-Covid Britain that might be a tricky question. However, one exception is First Law International which in 2020 came out as the The Lawyer’s Global Network of the Year.

Headquartered in the EU’s capital, FLI has more than 100 leading national law firms as members of its FLI NET. “Our experts specialise in cross-border legal projects, enabling each of our clients to achieve growth and success on a global scale,” it explains.

One of its several claims to fame is to be at the forefront of innovation in LegalTech and it is now staking its reputation on the launch of FLInstitute, a ‘digital compliance training platform for in-house legal teams.’

“First Law International’s fully digital training platform helps in-house counsels understand the risks facing their business and help avoid infringements of local legislation in jurisdictions across the globe,” says Daniel-Casares Lauritsen, the network’s Chief Business Development Officer. “As part of our compliance program, we now offer TRACE-accredited training digitally covering Anti-corruption and Anti-bribery, as well as a variety of other modules which we co-create with our clients and local counsel. In a post-pandemic global environment, online training programs make it easier for internal teams to disseminate information quicker, more effectively, and usually at a much lower cost.”

One of the particular benefits is that the platform allows for multiple languages, depending on the teams’ locations. For once, in other words, not everyone is expected to speak Anglais/Inglese/Englisch/Saesneg/Béarla.

Another Case of ‘No Comment’?

Are these coppers due a pension?

It’s too serious a subject for joking but, nonetheless, reports that Equiniti failed to properly update its database, resulting in pension statements being sent to the wrong addresses of hundreds of former members of the Sussex Police force does have a strong hint of Line of Duty about it. The Equiniti data breach exposed the names, National Insurance numbers, salary banding, dates of birth, police service details, and pensions information of police officers. So if you were part of an OCG it could all be very interesting. No suprise then that almost 500 coppers have recently issued a compensation claim in the High Court against Paymaster 1836, the pensions part of Equiniti Group.

Acting for them is specialist group action law firm Keller Lenkner UK, whose Head of data breach, Kingsley Hayes, has taken a pretty robust approach. “A data breach of this scale has a significant impact on the individuals affected. Equiniti has thus far failed to recognise the seriousness of the data violation and the impact on the large number of police officers affected. The breach included highly confidential information which, placed in the wrong hands, could have significant consequences, including identity theft or other fraudulent activities resulting in significant financial losses. Equiniti had a duty to protect this information and should be held accountable for their failure to do so. They should compensate victims fairly.”

Due to privacy concerns emanating from the case, the Judge has ordered that the names of the claimants be kept confidential. As one of the affected individuals commented. “Knowing that my personal information may potentially be used to defraud me or others is deeply troubling.”

Looks like the next storyline for Jed Mercurio.

Righteous Pensions

Talking about pensions, the Treasury committee has recently published an unanimously agreed report which calls for environmental, social and governance (ESG) regulations for smaller pension schemes. Great idea but how practicable is it?

“From our experience trustees of smaller schemes which are not in distress situations are engaged and interested in ESG and keen to do their part, “ says Jane Kola, Partner at specialist pensions law firm Arc Pensions Law. “The challenge they face is how to do this cost effectively and how to influence change.”

The problem is that, as of now, there are no common standards and no benchmarks to work with. And, not surprisingly given current market conditions, small schemes do not have the resources to create that metric for themselves. So the answer?

The larger schemes taking the lead should help smaller schemes comply in future years but only so long as that thinking does trickle down,” suggests Kola. “If not then a great deal of time and money will be wasted in compliance that could have been spent more wisely in promoting material and lasting change.”

Umm. Definitely one to think about.

Just Doing the Right Thing

Every law firm wants to claim the moral high ground these days setting out their values and explaining how they are making the world a better place .

 The way Reed Smith puts it is, “At Reed Smith, we strive to always ‘do the right thing’. Being a responsible business is vitally important to us. It is central to our core values: integrity – excellence – teamwork and respect – innovation – impact.”

To see how they do it take a look at their  2020 Responsible Business Report,

LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK

THE POST OFFICE SCANDAL: THE BEGINNING OF THE END?

The long arm of the law – Will it catch the REAL culprits?

The appalling abuses perpetrated by the Post Office on its sub-postmasters and mistresses have been called – officially – “An affront to the public conscience.” However, just a single member of the PO’s top brass resigning as a minister of the Anglican Church does not quite to reflect the gravity of the offences. Here Nick Gould examines some of the key questions still to be answered.

Last week at the Royal Courts of Justice, the tide finally turned in the Post Office Scandal. Having waited, in some cases more than 15 years, 39 Appellants had their convictions for fraud, theft and dishonesty overturned by the Court of Appeal.

The detailed judgement made it clear what the judges thought about the behaviour of the Post Office and individuals involved with it and with Fujitsu which operated the discredited Horizon IT system.

As lone voices (but with full support of their clients) in pushing for so called “limb 2”, barristers Paul Marshall and Flora Page developed the rarely used argument that these convictions were “an affront to the public conscience” – something that the Court accepted in its final judgment.

These Appeals are over, but there are many more to come and numerous other issues and questions to be addressed. These include notably:

– what was the basis of the advice given by various legal advisors to the Post Office over many years

– how can the non-disclosure of key documents and information be accounted for?

[On these points the SRA is now, apparently, gathering information].

– hundreds more postmasters wait for their convictions/ prosecutions to be overturned; how long will this now take?

– what about the compensation for all those whose lives were destroyed? When will it come? An immediate and unconditional interim payment for each Appellant is surely the right thing to do.

– there have been numerous calls for a powerful judge-led enquiry; the current enquiry set up by BEIS (which essentially owns the Post Office) is limited in its scope. Something more credible and comprehensive is required. When will it happen?

– who was responsible, ultimately, for corporate governance during this sorry saga, which apparently was about ‘Protecting the brand’. It ended up doing the exact reverse.

So there was indeed a massive miscarriage of justice. It has discredited the legal profession and the criminal justice system in the eyes of thousands of people. It should never be allowed to happen again (but, of course, it will). As Seema Misra, one of the victims, said, “If this could happen to me, it could happen to anyone.” [Well, not quite anyone, one suspects].

 Nick Gould, partner at Aria Grace Law, was part of the team who advised three of the falsely accused.

SPECIAL REPORT OF THE WEEK – SUIT YOURSELF?

Here, there, anywhere or everywhere – where works best? And for whom?

‘How come the boss doesn’t invite me down the pub anymore?’
(That’s the cat speaking obviously)

One of the biggest law firms in the world, Clifford Chance, has just announced that by the end of June its UK partners will be allowed to work remotely for up to half the week. Other law firms are following suit with variations on this theme. Notionally it is one of the benefits of the Covid crisis that bosses have started to think the unthinkable and operate their businesses in a more flexible way which better suits the needs of ALL their diverse people.

How exactly it will play out remains to be seen. But one of the major anxieties should be that there are now completely conflicting claims made for remote working especially regarding those believed to be disadvantaged in the race for career advancement. Some suggest that it will be good for them. Others maintain that it will disadvantage them even further. Here are the two arguments as advanced in the past few days:

UK firms choose hybrid working model to increase access to skills

According to the quarterly FSSC Pulse Survey conducted in February and March this year, long-term remote working is expected to have a positive impact on access to skills. 40% of respondents reported it will improve staff retention, with another 40% expecting flexible working to widen existing talent pools. 20% thought it will boost staff productivity.

Remote working has significantly improved employee training and collaboration, bringing people from across sites together and creating content that can be re-watched. Commenting on the survey results, Claire Tunley, CEO Financial Services Skills Commissionsaid“As lockdown lifts, organisations are offering flexible working options which they believe will improve access to skills and boost productivity and competitiveness. Employers see this as an opportunity to improve staff retention and significantly widen existing talent pools.

Hybrid working could lead to discrimination and lack of diversity

OE Cam, a firm of business psychologists, is urging businesses to consider the unintended impact of hybrid working.  Their modelling suggests that planned policies will likely lead to greater discrimination and a lack of diversity within organisations in the UK and offices worldwide.  The very flexibility to work from home that is being welcomed by employees, may inadvertently lead to those who choose this option suffering detrimental impacts to their careers by missing out on opportunities.

The team of organisation consultants and psychologists at OE Cam explored how businesses will be affected as they move to a hybrid working model. The formation of ‘in-groups’ and ‘out-groups’, something that has been noticed by organisations during remote working, will be even more prominent in a hybrid workforce.

‘Present privilege’ means that those in the workplace are more likely to be involved in spontaneous discussions in the office and have better access to the boss – meaning that they are more front of mind for promotion.

Those working remotely, who may potentially include greater numbers of working mothers, the disabled and minority groups, will be left at a disadvantage, finding themselves a part of the ‘out-group’. Over time this could lead to them becoming unnoticed, left without a voice, the ability to contribute or progress.

“I saw first-hand in a meeting how remote workers became disadvantaged over their physically present colleagues,” explains. Martyn Sakol, Managing Partner at OE Cam. “A team was considering a significant deal. It adjourned for a planned break. Those who were working remotely logged off to take a comfort break alone, while those in the office continued group conversations. When the meeting resumed, it became glaringly apparent that the opinions on how to shape the deal had changed amongst the office-based team; their new stance did not reflect conversations that had included any remote participants. It was apparent at this point that the implications to businesses worldwide could be hugely damaging.

“The issue for any organisation now is to reduce the effects of out-groups. Businesses must be mindful of which employees are the ones most likely to wish to work remotely most of the time. Experts believe that there are certain groups this will include: those with caring responsibilities, parents (with more mums choosing, or even feeling obliged, to work remotely over dads), disabled employees – for whom the commute can be more difficult – and older generation workers, hoping to improve their work-life balance.”

So, there you have it. Not quite as cut and dried as we hoped.

APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) has appointed their existing Partner Daisy Reeves as the firm’s inaugural Inclusion & Diversity Client Relationship Partner.

Reeves will focus exclusively on collaboration and thought leadership with clients and communities on best, and next, practice in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) across BCLP’s 30 international offices. The goal, the firm says, is to “Actively shift the needle on global inclusion” so that ‘inclusion and diversity runs through all that is undertaken by BCLP’.

Daisy Reeves

Daisy has a unique understanding of both the global inclusion landscape and BCLP’s diversity platform, and we are excited to utilise Daisy’s experience as a change agent so BCLP can further collaborate with our clients, to foster inclusion wherever we do business,” said BCLP Co-Chairs Lisa Mayhew and Steve Baumer.

Kennedys has appointed Nathan Buckley as a regulatory partner in its Manchester office and as part of the firm’s 20 strong national regulatory team. Formerly at Clyde & Co. Buckley specialises in regulatory defence work, particularly corporate manslaughter/gross negligence manslaughter, health and safety, environment and motor crime investigations and prosecutions, together with inquests across all industries.

Nick Thomas, senior partner at Kennedys commented: “Our growth is always led by client demand and need. We have recently enjoyed significant expansion in the North following the opening of our new office in Leeds and the move to our new larger premises in Manchester,Nathan’s expertise will help to establish a hub in Manchester with a view to growing our regulatory team’s work in that area.”

E-VENTS

Worth a watch

The Virtual Conference for UK-Africa legal services under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice and featuring Andrew Skipper of Hogan Lovells in conversation with a group of experienced GC’s who know the African client scene well.

Go to https://youtu.be/jmal0n4xd_w

For background go to Virtual conference for UK-Africa legal services – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk),

AND FINALLY PARLEZ-VOUS?

The Legal Diary is delighted that it has a cosmopolitan readership for whom no European language represents a barrier (although, embarrassingly, super-strength Scouse is occasionally a problem to the editorial team). So we are delighted to alert you to an ‘en ligne’ conference hosted by

LINKLATERS

Le cabinet Linklaters tiendra une conférence en ligne détaillant comment les autorités de concurrence intègrent les critères environnementaux et de développement durable :

Prise en compte des aspects environnementaux par les autorités de concurrence Avec Charlotte Colin-Dubuisson, associée    Mardi 4 mai 2021 11h00 à 12h00 (CET)   Les nombreuses discussions et publications relatives à l’articulation entre le droit de la concurrence et le développement durable (projet de lignes directrices au Pays Bas, fiche informative au Royaume-Uni, consultation de la Commission européenne) attestent de l’importance de ce sujet pour les autorités de concurrence en Europe. Si les autorités reconnaissent que les règles de concurrence ne devraient pas faire obstacle aux objectifs environnementaux et de développement durable, elles précisent néanmoins que la poursuite de tels objectifs ne saurait permettre aux entreprises de s’affranchir de ces règles.   Cette session sera l’occasion de revenir sur les discussions récentes en matière de coopérations « vertes » entre concurrents mais également sur la prise en compte par les autorités de concurrence du développement durable et des critères environnementaux dans l’analyse en matière de contrôle des concentrations.

S’inscrire

 
 

Afin de recevoir le lien de connexion, vous pouvez vous inscrire avec le lien ci-dessus ou par retour de mail.

Cordialement, Laurence Bault Directrice Conseil

ENJOY THE BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND. UNTIL NEXT WEEK!

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Friday April 23 2021 Edition 54

Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and

e-vents from the legal world

SHORT THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

– DEFINITELY OFFSIDE

Detached observers might find it baffling that in a week otherwise dominated by the George Floyd trial, the re-booting of US policy on climate change and suggestions of Whitehall sleaze, that it was the announcement of a new football competition which led the headlines in both print and broadcast media.

The reason, perhaps, was that the ESL controversy was so freighted with other concerns – from globalisation to elite entitlement and the Americanisation of European traditions – that it touched even people with no direct interest in football (let alone soccer).

Law firms from both sides of the Atlantic – along with the bankers – had already been lined up to drive through the necessary changes. And there are, oddly, other connections with the legal world. Do the five (or is it six?) firms which make up the Magic Circle consider themselves candidates for the European Super League of lawyers? Or have we already reached the point where US firms are now so active across London, Europe and the World that the Magic Circle ascription no longer means much?

This is borne out by the fact that Linklaters alone from the Magic Circle is numbered among the eight law firms (mostly American) backing the newly-launched (see below) Windrush Pro Bono Clinic. In short, has the Magic Circle now been relegated?

The LegalDiarist

The Legal Diary welcomes your news, insights and comment. Please send direct to

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

IN THIS WEEK’S EDITION

+ THE LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

– Stopping climate change legally

– Advice for Windrush victims

– More Sit-Ups in Court

‘And Death came rattling’

+ SPECIAL REPORT OF THE WEEK :THIS WEEK’S FOOTBALL RESULTS

+ LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK: FILIAL IMPIETY

+ APPOINTMENT OF THE WEEK: Faegre Drinker

+ E-VENTS

THE LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

STOP PRESS!! Names of improperly convicted Sub-Postmasters have been cleared – more next week!

Stopping Climate Change legally

Going green? Image courtesy of the EC

With all the interest this week (as every week) in climate change – and Joe Biden’s enthusiasm for the upcoming meeting in Glaws-cow – all self-respecting lawyers must be asking themselves ‘not what climate change can do for me but what can I do to halt climate change’.


Well, the new Chancery Lane Project, sponsored by Thomson Reuters Legal, might have a few answers. As a ‘focused and collaborative effort of lawyers from around the world to develop new contracts and model laws to help fight climate change’ the CLP has brought together a range of model clauses and laws designed to bake anti-climate change measures into legal systems globally. “TCLP is an incredible collaborative effort whereby we can make a real difference to tackle climate change through what we do daily, i.e. drafting.” said Chirag Rao, a Senior Associate at Howard Kennedy.

Although there are already almost 700 lawyers participating in the project there is still room for more people who want to get involved in the process of creating off-the-shelf eco-friendly laws and regulations.

Examples of these new legal contracts include:

  • Incentive mechanisms to encourage sustainable practices within supply chain contracts with the aim of reducing emissions.
  • Introducing clauses into employment contracts requiring employers to offer employees the chance to participate in climate change awareness training.
  • Eco friendly “Cooler plate” (boilerplate) clauses that aim to embed climate issues and Net Zero Targets in the entire contract so these flow into the contract management and commercial lifestyle. 

“This pro bono initiative encourages corporations to contribute positively to the environment by introducing those ‘green-friendly’ clauses into contracts,” say the organizers.

To find out more go to https://chancerylaneproject.org/.

Eight just law firms act for ‘Windrush victims’

Happy arrival?

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Charles Russell Speechlys, Debevoise & Plimpton, Dechert, Latham & Watkins, Linklaters, Taylor Wessing and White & Case have come together with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) to offer free legal advice to those eligible for the government’s Windrush Compensation Scheme. This follows a disappointingly low number of applicants as a result, it is believed, of inadequate legal support in navigating the complex application process. .

The Windrush Compensation Scheme was set up in 2019 following the Windrush scandal, which broke in 2018 when it emerged that despite living and working in the UK for decades many of the “Windrush generation” and their family members, including children and grandchildren, were told that they were illegally living in the UK. As a consequence they were wrongly detained, deported and denied legal rights.

The JCWI initiative has now been established to assist individuals affected by the Windrush scandal in submitting their applications, assessing the resulting decision and appealing it if necessary.

“Two years on from the introduction of the Windrush Compensation scheme, it is woefully inadequate that so few people have been able to apply for compensation,” said Nicola Burgess, Legal Director at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. “The Home Office promised that the people affected would have justice, but they continue to be failed by the government. The scheme is designed in a way which bars them from the support they are entitled to and deserve. We hope that this initiative goes some way to support the Windrush generation, but it’s clear that victims need legal aid and a system which works in their favour, not against them.”

More Sit-Ups in Court

Court in the act

At last Government is doing some exercises to relieve the massive clogging up of the court systems. As widely reported yesterday the Ministry of Justice is to remove the limit on the number of sitting days in the Crown Courts in order to tackle the backlog. But, of course, the problem long pre-dates Covid.

“This is a cause we’ve been campaigning for, publicly and in discussions with the Ministry of Justice, since 2019 when we opposed the government’s decision to cut sitting days,” said Derek Sweeting QC, Chair of the Bar Council. “The criminal justice system has been paying the price ever since, with the backlog of cases in the Crown Courts mounting. Victims, witnesses and defendants should not have to endure long delays before their cases reach court.

“Whilst this is a positive step towards tackling the backlog, as are the expected additional sitting days in civil jurisdictions, it will only prove effective if it is matched by sufficient court staff and resources to support the anticipated rise in cases going through the Crown Court. It will require that the  existing court estate is used to its maximum capacity together with the continued and increased use of Nightingale courts. It must be accompanied by a long-term strategy, not confined to the pandemic period.”

So building back better? Well, a bit better anyway.

And Death came rattling’

Peace at last – and then they open the will

British people mostly avoid the facts of life – and, even more so. death.

So it’s no great surprise that there is little discussion within families about what happens post-mortem. Indeed, according to a national survey by Ampla Finance 44% of Brits have not discussed financial arrangements with parents or partners in the event of their deaths And even during this pandemic only 12% have reviewed their will or funeral arrangements.

The result is that many families find themselves cast, unprepared, into the probate process when death does come to call. “The UK probate system is notoriously complicated and increasingly slow-moving,” commented Steve Gauke, Head of Partnerships at Ampla Finance. “Unforeseen delays can badly impact a family’s financial planning, so we need greater education around probate and to encourage a frank conversation on family finances, even though we know it’s difficult.”

What’s required, says Gauke, is a call-to-action for people to face up to death and deal with the legal implications in advance. “We are pleased to have started a productive conversation on what has long been perceived as a taboo topic in the UK, and underscored the importance of initiating these sensitive discussions to save further stress at an already testing time for families,” added Louise Hall, Commercial Director at Ampla Finance

The full report ‘It’s time to talk’ is available to view https://amplafinancelegal.wordpress.com/2021/04/21/wills-and-financial-planning-its-time-to-talk/

SPECIAL LEGAL REPORT OF THE WEEK

THIS WEEK’S FOOTBALL RESULTS

– NO MATCH OF THE DAY

Warrants a good kicking

Not so much ‘a game of two halfs’ but more a mash-up of half-wits – that’s been the farcical story of the European Super League this week.And here is what our legal pundits in the commentary box had to say:

STEPHEN TAYLOR HEATH, Head of Sports Law and Partner at JMW Solicitors, commenting at half time.

 “It is interesting because the statement last night suggested that the founders believed they could create this league without it affecting the domestic leagues but this letter suggests they regard FIFA and UEFA as the aggressors in seeking to prevent the league forming.

In essence this is football’s Brexit moment. From a legal perspective, their main issues will be around broadcasting rights and commercial opportunities. TV contracts will have certain conditions requiring participation of the top teams. That will be the dilemma for domestic leagues as to whether this was a “hard Brexit” or “soft Brexit” type scenario.

The outcry around top teams not earning their place from performance in domestic leagues has happened before in some sports which have from time to time suspended relegation such as Rugby for economic reasons and American Football for example does not have relegation.

It also raises questions around governance – government intervention could be seen as inappropriate unless it’s in the context of anti-competitive practices. The inevitable consequence of the rich getting richer and the poorer getting poorer is the extinction of the grass roots game and the loss of a good many clubs whose identity is tied to its local community as well as the unemployment of a significant number of pro and semi-pro players.”

 And commenting after the final whistle, JAMES EARL, Partner and Head of the Sports Business Group at Fladgate,

“Although the ESL in its proposed form has been stopped dead in its tracks, this saga will continue to raise important questions about the future of European football and what the right balance of multiple competing interests should be. It is important to remember that long-term issues around the distribution of wealth in the domestic and international football pyramids existed well before the ESL (and similar proposals) arose and these will very much remain an issue which needs to be dealt with despite the ESL’s almost immediate demise.

Clearly, the ‘closed shop’ proposals on the table were an affront to most people’s understanding of fair sporting competition. Having said that, European football’s governing bodies are still ultimately left with the challenge of finding a model that concentrates performance and quality to generate the sporting intrigue and excitement that fans want. When it comes to the allocation of rights and revenues, the difficulty remains finding a solution that reflects the considerable value that the biggest teams can, and do, deliver.”

AND IN EXTRA TIME – THE SPECIAL ONE IS SENT OFF (AGAIN)

Maybe needs a new title?

After spending a short training session (as usual) annoying hard-working footballers on the pitch, Jose Mourinho has been once again been told his services are no longer required.

“In January 2021, we wrote about Frank Lampard’s departure from Chelsea Football Club in very similar circumstances,” comments jointly Jonathan Metliss, Rachel Lester and Alex Huston, the hard-tackling back three atAxiom Stone Solicitors. “As with Lampard, Mourinho would fail to meet the necessary two-year period of service to bring a claim for unfair dismissal as his employment with Tottenham only lasted 17 months with his contract due to expire at the end of the 2022-2023 season.

“Mourinho has made substantial sums of money from departing various clubs – reportedly in the region of £77.5 million. The dismissing clubs have paid these significant sums because, failing to, would leave themselves open to a claim for breach of the unexpired fixed term of the manager’s contract. Depending on the bargaining power of the respective parties, clubs and managers can agree contractual provisions that mitigate the effect of the potentially costly claims for the unexpired portion of the contract.

“Mourinho has indicated that he intends to stay in football and that he does not need a break from the sport. It will therefore be interesting to see where he gets his next contract.”

MEANWHILE IN ANOTHER LEAGUE

Ipswich Town would be an ideal drop zone for Mr Mourinho, suggests our mischievous Sports Editor. After all, she points out, back-in-the-day the formerly triumphant IPSWICH was managed by Mourinho’s mentor Bobby Robson – and it has just been sold to American investment fund ORG (which no doubt has masses of money to splash out on a fancy new manager and zillion dollar glamour contracts).

In their time Ipswich would certainly have been top candidates for ESL status – but the whirligig of success soon left them behind and they dropped into the lower leagues. But now, thanks to law firm Lee & Thompson who advised Marcus Evans, owner of the team for the past thirteen years, they may be heading for the good times again. “The sale signals a major phase of investment into the League One club as it sets its sights on promotion and committing to substantial investment in both the club’s playing squad and infrastructure,” said the accompanying press release. Who knows, Ipswich might be one of the contenders for the next ESL proposal when it resurfaces a decade hence. [Some hope, says our Norwich-supporting Sports editor] 

LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK

FILIAL IMPIETY?

Following the award this week of  £75m to Tatiana Akhmedova from her son Temur as part of the extraordinary divorce battle with her former husband Farkhad Akhmedov. Henry Hood, Partner and Head of the Family department at Hunters Law, comments:


In the latest round of the Akhmedova divorce litigation, the High Court has continued to find in Tatiana’s favour with Knowles J finding for her against her son just as Haddon-Cave J (as he then was) had found for her against her husband. She has not had such luck against her husband in jurisdictions where his assets were actually situated, particularly in Dubai, and to this point the only asset she has got her hands on has been a helicopter, the value of which to her proceedings must now be very stretched.

However, things may now be different if her son has significant assets, particularly land, available for enforcement in this jurisdiction. It appears that he has had in the past. This may be a game-changer for her.”

So the saga rolls on.

APPOINTMENT OF THE WEEK at FAEGRE DRINKER

Susan Moore has joined  Faegre Drinker as a partner in the finance and restructuring practice group in the London office.

Previously at Stephenson Harwood, where she was head of the restructuring and insolvency practice, Moore will now lead on high-profile cross-border and domestic restructurings and corporate insolvencies. She is a former member of the Insolvency Rules Committee, a body that gives recommendations to the U.K. Lord Chancellor in connection with secondary insolvency legislation.

“Sue is a remarkable talent who has served clients in some of the world’s most high-stakes and precedent setting restructurings and insolvencies,” said finance and restructuring practice group leader Mike Stewart. “Her addition strengthens our practice’s international capabilities and our commitment to providing clients with the most sophisticated guidance in the market.”

E-VENTS

Transformation, Trust and the Data Driven Legal Department

The Corporate Counsel and Compliance Exchange 2021 will be held on the 5th and 6th May and we would love you to be there!
The event will bring together General Counsels, Chief Compliance Officers and Senior Legal Leaders who are all actively responsible for developing practical strategies and solutions to drive efficiency, embed ethics and enable growth within in-house functions.


** Highlights for Day 1 – 5th May 2021**


12:05 pm – Embedding A Sound Company Culture Of Compliance To Add Greater Value To Your Legal Department
Zoe O’Sullivan, Head of Legal,
Southampton FC
Mitzi Berberi, Legal Director – Western & Southern Europe,
Uber
Mathieu Savaris, Former General Counsel, Western Europe,
GE Power


12:50pm – The move to Holistic Due Diligence
Andrew Henderson, Head of Due Diligence Proposition,
London Stock Exchange Group



3pm – Transformation, Trust and the Data Driven Legal Department
Bernadette Bulacan, Vice President – Evangelism



4pm – Building An Early Warning System To Engage Stakeholders And Manage Future Risk
Bea Miyamoto, General Counsel
, Panasonic


4:40pm – Adjusting Strategy in 2020: Exploring How Company’s Pivoted Throughout the Pandemic to Best Protect Their Businesses
Georgina McManus, Global General Counsel
, Manolo Blahnik
Sharon Blackman, Managing Director & General Counsel
, Citi
Wayne Spillett, Head of Legal, Commercial Operations and IP,
Vodafone Group
Anita Adam, Regional Director of Legal and Corporate Affairs,
Molson Coors
To request an invitation go to:

https://www.iqpc.com/events-corporate-counsel-and-compliance-exchange-uk/downloads/request-an-invitation

Have a great Friday night and, if you find the LEGAL DIARY amusing, please help us grow the audience by forwarding it to a friend or colleague!

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Friday 16th April 2021 Edition 53

Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and

e-vents from the legal world

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK:

What lies through the wood?

A clear, straight path ahead?

There’s a school of thought which believes that the past year has marked the transition from the 75 year ‘Post war era’ into a new ‘Post Covid era’.

Certainly, as the UK moves out of lockdown, there is a feeling of a new start. And that was borne out this morning by the announcement from Clyde & Co. that it is to vacate its space in Beaufort House and, as Chief Executive Officer Matthew Kelsall put it, “Look holistically at all our working practices to ensure they are as effective as possible for the firm and our people.”

Quite what role lawyers will have in this new era and how they will perform is now an open question. The ‘State of the UK Legal Market 2021’ report, published this week (see below) by the Thomson Reuters Institute gives some clues. However, one only has to looks at that is happening in India and Brazil and even Japan to recognise that the world is not out of the covid covert yet. There is still a long way to go – in a global economy – and maybe some unexpected twists and turns in the path ahead before we can see clearly how it will all shape up.

The LegalDiarist

PLEASE SEND YOUR NEWS, VIEWS, STORIES AND COMMENTS FOR NEXT WEEK TO

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

In this week’s edition

+LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

– Great Technology + Savvy Relationships = Satisfied Clients

Happy Coexistence?

Something to look out for next Friday

Is Lugano a No-No?

Media Coup by Agency Captures BBC Legal Guru

+ SPECIAL REPORT OF THE WEEK: SO WHAT DID YOU DO DURING COVID?

+ STUDENTS PIONEER NEW VIRTUAL WORLD

+ APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK

McCarthy Denning and Stokoe Partnership

LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

Great Technology + Savvy Relationships = Satisfied Clients

The State of the UK Legal Market 2021 report, published this week by the Thomson Reuters Institute (TRI) threw up two big complementary findings. But if you were a law firm managing partner you would be forgiven for sighing that some clients are just never satisfied.

In a nutshell, the report stated that clients want a combination of fantastic, cost-cutting innovative technology-based services. Well fair enough. you might say. But, on top of that, they also want highly attentive, charming, personal service based on long-term relationships. In the words of the release from TRI, “The report found that strong client-firm relationships are increasingly important, especially when a firm invests the time to thoroughly understand a client’s operations and business strategies, and views the relationship as more of a business partnership. Nearly half of corporates (47%) state that the main way firms can bring more value is to commit to a longer-term partnership.”

Meanwhile though, “89% of corporates believe their firms should be looking to explore more innovative ways to use technology.”

Of course, in an ideal world better technology would be a money saver enabling firms to devote more human resource to developing those relationships and improving understanding of clients’ businesses. Great people and great technology. That’s the recipe for success. But who can afford it?

The State of the UK Legal Market 2021 report can be downloaded at: bit.ly/UKSOLM2021

Happy Coexistence? Or too many hungry IP caterpillars?

Who are you calling a fatcat?

The LegalDiarist has always suspected that the true intellectual titans of the legal world are to be found in the groves of IP (well the title ‘intellectual property’ is the giveaway, isn’t it?). And that view was confirmed just yesterday on BBC Radio4 by a forensic analysis of the mouthwatering IP contest in the High Court between M&S’s Colin the Caterpillar and his deadly rival, Cuthbert, from the other side of the tracks at Aldi.

Space does not allow, unfortunately, for us to serve up the various complex and detailed arguments but it certainly illustrated why being an IP lawyer is no cake walk.

All of which is an appetiser for the announcement that M&S, one of that elite group of dedicated IP specialists, is launching a new commercial IP services outfit to focus on ‘valuation services’. (No, not Marks & Spencer; this M&S is Mathys & Squire – yes, IP is complicated but do keep up).

All of which follows the acquisition some four years ago by M&S of IP consulting firm Coller IP. Having been co-habiting happily – unlike Colin and Cuthbert, it must be said – the two firms have developed their relationship to a point at which their legal and commercial services fit ‘seamlessly together’.

“We are proud to be able to offer our existing and prospective clients the full range of commercial IP advice and services they need to help their business grow under the Mathys & Squire umbrella,” said partner Alan MacDougall . “Being part of the innovation environment means we are always seeking to identify innovative ways of enhancing our range of services to clients and help them manage all IP aspects of their businesses.”

Yes, but can they persuade Colin and Cuthbert to make up and play nice? And will Mathys & Squire’s next venture be a butterfly cake?

Something to look out for next Friday

On 23rd April the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division – in the final act of an extended drama – will give its judgement regarding more than 40 appeals relating to  the “Post Office Scandal”. These Appeals are by sub-postmasters who, over a 13 year period from 2000, were convicted quite wrongly of theft, fraud or false accounting. In nearly all of the cases, Post Office did not contest the appeals because it accepted that evidence in its original private prosecutions was incomplete and that the Horizon system’s faults were not disclosed to judges and juries.

Unfortunately, the Post Office in its warped wisdom has mostly denied that it was wrong to have prosecuted in the first place. Some might think that this is a model exercise in the higher arts of casuistry. It doesn’t do much for the public image of lawyers either. Fortunately though some key lawyers could not stand aside and let the scandal roll on unchallenged. But it has been a long journey. For example, in the case of Aria Grace Law’s three clients no less than a total of 44 years have been wasted in waiting for the appeals heard. Let us hope next week brings this miserable saga to an end.

Is Lugano a No-No?

Will they, won’t they? One of the key questions facing the UK in the post-Brexit world is whether the EU will permit the UK to join the Lugano Convention. This could be a vital development in normalising commercial life because the convention allows legal judgments to be enforced across borders, with all EU countries plus Norway, Switzerland and Iceland members of the pact.But the weight of expectation swings back and forth. Not so long ago Paul Chaplin, counsel at Hogan Lovells’ Litigation, Arbitration and Employment practice reckoned that the Europen Commission would endorse the UK’s accession to the Convention. “This is very welcome news for businesses both sides of the English Channel,” he said. “The UK Government had been lobbying hard in various European capitals and these noteworthy efforts appear to have paid off.”

But since then the suggestion, rather more strongly, is that EU will oppose the UK application to join the convention on the grounds that it is not a member of the European Economic Area or the European Free Trade Association. Like many other EU-related matters (not least trade via N. Ireland) it all seems a confused, arbitrary muddle. But what it illustrates is the difficulty of being a lawyer advising on these matters right now.

Media Coup by Agency

Clive Coleman - After Dinner Speakers | Speakers Corner
So here’s the story from Clive Coleman

Marcel Berlins, Joshua Rozenberg, Frances Gibb – all the great names of legal journalism become part of national life and the on-going debate about law in this country. And alongside them, of course, is Clive Coleman, the BBC legal affairs correspondent for 16 years, who has now departed the Corporation to join Maltin PR, one of the top-rated legal and litigation PR agencies, as a consultant.

Interpreting complicated legal matters at speed to a general audience is always demanding but Coleman did it with unfussy, exemplary skill across the biggest stories from the Hillsborough tragedy inquests to the Supreme Court’s 2019 decision on the prorogation of Parliament.

And speaking personally from having had the pleasure of Coleman’s company on various occasions at press conferences and awards events, the LegalDiarist knows what a good egg he is. Clive’s qualifications as a barrister and broadcaster, as well as a legal news expert, make him the perfect fit for Maltin,” said Tim Maltin, the agency’s Founder and Chief Executive.

SPECIAL REPORT OF THE WEEK

SO WHAT DID YOU DO DURING COVID?

The Masked Lawyer

Image courtesy of Hackensack Meridian Health

The lid might be lifting but many clients are licking their wounds and wondering how they survived the past year. Law firms have helped get them through – as these examples show.

ALL ROUND ADVICE

“Our agile operating model meant we were well prepared to support our clients on all fronts during these unprecedented times,” says George Bisnought, managing director of Excello Law.

“Our employment team have advised clients on a range of claims including unfair dismissal claims tied to furlough, health and safety issues whereby staff were required to work on site as opposed to home, and the implementation of furlough schemes and the various changes to these, often with real time issues arising before any government guidance was issued.

“Our family law team supported their clients through some of the most stressful periods they will experience, and our practices have had to become even more flexible and tailored to each individual to ensure access to justice. Some of our clients have seen their incomes drastically reduced and had to negotiate changes in financial arrangements, and others have had issues with interim maintenance where ex-spouses have claimed a reduction in earnings due to the pandemic. Our lawyers have had to navigate clients through these shifting waters and often adapt on short notice, whilst also adjusting to the changing work practices of the courts; many applications are now being dealt with online, more hearings taking place by telephone and via video conference, and an increase in advocacy as it can be more cost effective.

“On the commercial side we found many clients requiring advice in relation to the various financial support packages made available to companies across the nation. Our lawyers have helped clients analyse what they will be eligible for and whether they might be able to apply for loans under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme or the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme, as well as participate in The Future Fund. We also have clients who now require assistance understanding the new Recovery Loan Scheme.” Pensions Problems —— “Some employer clients needed to protect their own financial security and several considered lowering employer pension scheme contributions,” explains  Danyal Enver, associate at pensions law firm Arc Pensions Law. “We provided urgent and pragmatic advice on what temporary action they could take to swiftly lower contributions, and what to communicate to employees. We fully expect those contribution rates to rise again as the market stabilises post-pandemic.”  “During the pandemic, trustee clients had difficulties in lockdown as many necessary scheme changes required deeds to be executed and witnessed in person. We took a pragmatic approach to help. For example, pre-pandemic we would have advised against family members witnessing signatures, but due to the challenges presented by the pandemic we had to revisit the law and decide what our clients feasibly could do in their households while still complying with the legislation.”

AND WHAT ABOUT LAW FIRMS THEMSELVES?

The legal industry has been one of the few sectors that has partly benefited from the pandemic. Many of the cuts, furloughs and redundancies we saw last year were precautionary as opposed to necessary, says SOMAYA OUAZZANI, Founder and CEO of specialist legal executive search firm Mimoza Fleur.

The slick and smart firms have exploited the situation to capitalise on strategic lateral hires in the form of partners and senior associates. A lot of the legal industry’s national law firms lost nervous teams to firms with strong buying power – American firms played this well, as did the likes of Stewarts, Taylor Wessing and Howard Kennedy

Firms have become more prepared to offer partners greater control over their personal lives and more autonomy in their careers. So, providing fee earners are billing well, consistently and originating their own work, they can essentially wrangle for whatever it is that’s important to them. This has revolutionised the legal industry and will hopefully help to improve diversity and inclusivity. 

Senior non-partner lawyers have also done well out of this. They’ve been able to leverage their experience and relative affordability to secure ‘Day One’ partner roles sooner than they might have at their existing firms.

Media, sports and private wealth are hot areas right now. Attracting more affordable senior non-partners (with fertile and well cultivated networks) is a strategy a lot of my clients are wanting to deploy having seen it work in other sectors for a diverse range of firms including Hogan Lovells, Payne Hicks Beach, and Kirkland & Ellis

Ultimately, the legal industry has weathered this very aggressive Covid storm extremely well. Those firms with forward thinking, ambitious mind sets have fared the best, as have those with healthy cash reserves, good cash collections and sophisticated non legal operational input and frameworks. The shorter sighted firms resisted advice against losing support staff, the outcome of which is overstretched fee earners. Others gave up their premises or massively downsized prematurely.

AND LOOKING AHEAD FROM THIS WEEK– A REMINDER from PROFESSOR ALASTAIR HODGE, barrister, 5 ESSEX COURT

Alastair Hodge

12th April was potentially, a day like any other. For some, it was a birthday – such as the playwright, Alan Ayckbourn. But 12th April 2021 will be remembered for an altogether different reason – the second key date in Prime Minister Johnson’s “roadmap” out of lockdown.

The day on which in England:

  • Pubs & restaurants were allowed to open outdoors.
  • Non-essential retail, including clothes shops, reopened.
  • Hairdressers and nail salons got the green light to trade.
  • Theme parks, zoos, gyms & leisure centres threw open their doors.

However, whilst many businesses no doubt leapt for joy, they still remained subject to onerous, complex and, at times, unintelligible Government guidance on what they could and could not do.

For example, we know that pubs & restaurants will be allowed to serve food and alcohol outdoors. Unlike the period of lockdown at the end of 2020, there is no longer the requirement for “a substantial meal” to be consumed; nor is there any 22.00 hrs curfew. However, the rule of six will apply (up to six people, or two separate households) as will social distancing rules. Face coverings must be worn when not seated.

In terms of non-essential retail and other businesses, social distancing must be observed. Face coverings are mandatory for anyone who is not exempt.

In order to comply with the law & guidance, a Covid-19 risk assessment is essential (save for those businesses with fewer than five employees). This will enable businesses to identify potential health & safety hazards; ensure that hand sanitisation and hand washing facilities are readily available; encourage social distancing with appropriate signage; and limiting the potential for transmission of the virus.

Putting such measures in place at the earliest opportunity is advisable, thereby allowing businesses to focus on profitability, rather than worrying about being penalised and/or fined for non-compliance with the law.

So, no room for relaxing just yet.

+ STUDENTS PIONEER NEW WORLD:

JUMP STARTING LEGAL CAREERS UNDER COVID

For students exploring legal careers and those just starting on the career ladder these are weird times. Here we have two perspectives from the new virtual world of ‘insight events’ and the first few weeks of work with a major law firm.

FINDING OUT ABOUT LEGAL CAREERS VIRTUALLY

Legal ‘career insight ‘events in a virtual world are more than just a fad – they’re here to stay and worth embracing, argues INDERPREET MATHARU, second year law undergraduate at Nottingham Trent University

Inderpreet Matharu

Although virtual legal career events have been set up as a response to the Pandemic, they still offer a highly engaging snapshot into the operations of a successful law firm.

And if the 7000-plus attending Browne Jacobson and Young Professionals’ first two day virtual event under the firm’s FAIRE initiative (Fairer Access Into Real Experience) over Easter is anything to go by, they are likely to remain a firm fixture in any law firm’s calendar post pandemic.

The numbers attending can appear daunting at first but, similar to any career or networking event – virtual or not – you only get what you put in. Preparation is paramount so treat it just like a job interview. And don’t be late!

Make sure your research beforehand puts you in a strong position to ask insightful and specific questions that will help you get information to bolster your application

In doing so go beyond the firm’s website and look on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to see what the firm is saying and doing.

It is also important to have a different strategy for “working the room” if you get the chance. Make sure you register for any relevant workshops and streams or speeches well in advance.


Making a connection is understandably more challenging so use social media platforms such as LinkedIn post event to connect with attendees and speakers.Most people using LinkedIn ask to connect and then never reach out again – be the one that does!

Post-Pandemic may see us return to the “normal” in-person legal career event we are so used to but the virtual world is unquestionably here to stay and worth getting up close and personal with.

GETTING STARTED AT WORK

Research from Ezra, a provider of digital coaching, has revealed that a fifth of UK workers feel they get less recognition within their career as a direct result of working remotely.But many law firms are adjusting successfully to the new normal. Here EMILY GREATRIX, Paralegal, M&A, Corp Finance and Private Equity at Osborne Clarke LLP describes her experience.

Emily Greatrix

Merely fourteen months ago, I attended a face-to-face panel event looking at the biggest potential disruptors to the legal industry over the next five years. It’s amusing in hindsight, because the discussion focused on tech and the green economy; remote working was simply a star in the sky. Fast forward and, like the majority of the country, I now study and work entirely remotely.

My virtual education experience came when I started the LPC LLM. By nature, the course is a practical one and a vital element of an aspiring solicitor’s route to entry. So whilst the technical side of joining an online call has been straightforward in the context of learning, for example, the skill of client interviewing, I’ve had to rely on imagination and commercial experience. On this point, I think institutions should consider incorporating teaching on areas such as how to deliver remote client care, in order to reflect the changing times and future of hybrid working.

On the professional side, I think the best firms will stand out for how they prepare new joiners to virtually build relationships and support clients as well. I recently joined Osborne Clarke, as a full-time Corporate Paralegal, working remotely 9-5. Despite the fact I would have loved to start my career in the bustling Temple Quay office in Bristol, joining virtually has been nothing but a smooth and supported process. The training has been intricate yet manageable. My relationship with my line manager has been entirely virtual, but we have frequent catch up calls, including a video call on my first day, and I know I can always pick up the phone if needed. Since the lockdown started, they’ve also had a programme of virtual events to support networking and engaging with colleagues. I’m certain that my positive experience can be attributed to the firm’s kind culture; a huge part of my attraction in the first place. The question of when I might be able to go to the office is one that is still in development, but I’m hoping I will get to try an infamous OC bacon butty by the Summer.

 Emily Greatrix gained a First Class Degree in Law at the University of the West of England (Bristol) before joining Osborne Clarke LLP

APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK

McCarthy Denning, one of the first ‘next generation’ City law firms, has recruited Soulla Berger as a partner in its international hospitality practice.

Soulla Berger

Berger has had more than a decade of experience both in private practice experience at Goodwin Procter LLP and in-house with Marriott International and Four Seasons. Her expertise extends through the development, management, acquisition, disposition and financing of hotels, resorts, branded residences, and other mixed-use hospitality assets. 

At McCarthy Denning, Berger will join Partner John Sipling to advise on the contractual relationship between the ownership and brand/operator side of the industry. “I originally joined McCarthy Denning because I wanted to work in a more flexible, less bureaucratic environment, where I could focus on my clients in a creative and productive way,” said John Sipling. “It has worked brilliantly, and my practice has grown stronger and stronger. ” 

This is what attracted Soulla Berger.“The optimised infrastructure that McCarthy Denning offers will enable me to provide the specialist advice that hospitality and leisure clients require without the overheads of a traditional firm during an unprecedented time in the hospitality industry,” she says.

Stokoe Partnership Solicitors, the criminal defence firm, has recruited Richard Cannon as a partner to its Central London offices.

Cannon is a highly experienced white collar crime solicitor, practising primarily in serious fraud and joins from Gunnercooke, where he was a partner. Previously he had been a partner at Mishcon de Reya and before that at Janes Solicitors.

Richard Cannon

Cannon’s track record covers a wide range of experience including cross-border financial crime allegations, Ponzi frauds and alleged bribery and corruption for both private and corporate clients. He has acted in a range of high profile matters, including cases brought by the Serious Fraud Office and HMRC prosecutions in relation to alleged tax fraud.

“Stokoe Partnership Solicitors has a strong reputation for handling some of the most serious and complex criminal defence matters and I am delighted to be joining the team,” said Cannon.

E-VENTS, WEBINARS etc.

BDB Pitmans in conjunction with St Philips Chambers are delighted to invite you to our latest Mock Employment Tribunal which has been designed especially for HR professionals and managers.

The virtual event will be run by our experienced employment team along with barristers from St Philips Chambers, and will be presided over by a ‘real-life’ Employment Tribunal Judge.

You will hear from a disgruntled claimant, experience and participate in the cross examination of witnesses and will follow the proceedings through to its conclusion.

The Mock Tribunal will provide you with:

  • an opportunity to help demystify Tribunal proceedings;
  • an insight into how online proceedings are being conducted;
  • a chance to learn how to prepare for, present and defend a Tribunal claim; and
  • a forum to question and discuss Employment Tribunal issues with our team of experienced barristers and an Employment Judge.

This practical and interactive session is a great opportunity to experience the theatre of an Employment Tribunal (albeit in a virtual setting), understand how the process works and build your confidence to prepare for any future Tribunals without risk to your business.

The Mock Tribunal is free to attend but please register for your place by clicking here 

Once registered, Mock Tribunal documents, including witness statements, will be sent to you via email no later than seven days in advance. 

The session will be held using Zoom, a link will be sent to you in your registration confirmation email and will also be re-sent on the morning of the webinar.

We hope you can join us.

Follow us @BDBPitmans #BuildingBetter

HARDWICKE BUILDING

Brave New World:
What Brexit Means for Litigators

Enforcement of Foreign Judgments and Service of Proceedings after Brexit

We are delighted to invite you to our #HardwickeBrew taking place at midday on Wednesday, 21 April.12:00 – 12:30 | Wednesday, 21st April 2021
Online!

Michael Levenstein and James Shaw will discuss the new legal landscape following the end of the Brexit transition period. In particular, they will address legal and tactical issues arising from the disapplication of the Recast Brussels Regulation, the UK’s accession to the Hague Convention and changes to CPR, Part 6 as concerns service of proceedings outside of the jurisdiction.

Please register your interest by using the buttons below. We will be in touch to confirm places in due course. If you have any questions, please e-mail events@hardwicke.co.uk.

We look forward to catching up at a safe social distance!

View email online  

Structuring and resourcing your legal team  

In conjunction with Thomson Reuters please join us for a discussion about how in-house legal teams can best be structured and resourced to deliver an effective service to their organisation. Whether you lead a team or work within one, it’s important that you understand the context in which structuring and resourcing decisions are taken.
 
Date:  19 May 2021  Time: 2.00pm-3.30pm

Legal teams are frequently restructured in part and sometimes as a whole in order to meet challenges caused by crises, mergers, expansion or budgetary cuts or simply as a consequence of the realisation that the previous structure was no longer working effectively enough to meet the developing needs of the organisation.  In this discussion we expect to explore a range of practical issues – strategic, people, financial – relevant to this important topic, including:
Questions to ask yourself before deciding on the right structure for your team
Helping clients to understand their needs and wants
Deciding the size and scope of the team
Using other resources to help you deliver the service – outside lawyers,  the client, and others
Developing your legal strategy and making the case for your resources
Aspects of change management involved in decisions on structure
Link between structures, recruitment and career development. 

If you have any questions, queries or comments, please contact us at admin@legalleadership.co.uk

 ACCEPT

We hope that you have enjoyed this edition of the LEGAL DIARY,

Please relay on to friends and colleagues.

And we look forward to publishing again next Friday.