Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Thursday July 30 2020 Lunchtime publication Edition 19

Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and arts from the legal world

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Witnessing WILLS remotely – who would have ever believed it possible? Let alone legal? After all, who had even heard of Zoom six months ago? So, even though the social rules of engagement keep shifting, the constant is that people, the law and lawyers in particular can keep adjusting and adapting to make things work.

That should apply also, to the social make-up of the profession. As our story today about The Legal Apprentice (see Legal Diary) demonstrates, there are imaginative ways to innovate and make significant change. It really does just depend on the WILL.

The Legaldiarist

In this edition

– The Legal Diary of the week

– Firms must lead action on racial inequality says Trevor Sterling

– Have Lawyer, will zoom

– Blogs from Forsters

– Podcasts from Dechert

– Images of legal London at the RCJ

– The Blank Canvass – legal art works needed

LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

HIGH STAKES IN SAUDI INVESTIGATION

Today’s news that the Serious Fraud Office has decided to bring charges in connection with possible corruption at GPT Special Project Management (a subsidiary of Airbus) by paying bribes in Saudi Arabia has brought immediate comment from white collar crime lawyers.

First out of the traps this morning was Aziz Rahman, Rahman Ravelli’s Senior Partner, who said, The bringing of these charges could be viewed as a brave move when the possible political and economic effects on relations between the UK and Saudi Arabia are considered.

“In 2006, the Tony Blair government called off a three-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into alleged bribery by British Aerospace in relation to Saudi defence contracts, citing economic and political reasons. This case could possibly have gone the same way.

“This is a case that has taken eight years to reach the stage where charges are brought. It did certainly seem as if successive governments were simply kicking the can down the road and avoiding making a decision.

“The SFO submitted a formal request to the then Attorney General to launch a prosecution at least two years ago. The length of time for a decision to be taken was being viewed in some quarters as a sign of just how willing – or unwilling – the UK was to take a tough approach on tackling bribery when it could be politically sensitive to do so.

But we now have a decision made by the current Attorney General. While the eventual outcome obviously remains to be seen, it is to this government’s credit that it has grasped the nettle on this one.’

ANALYSE DATA, BEHAVE LEGALLY

There seems to be a growing trend of combining legal expertise with other complementary skills to carve out a unique niche in the market. Presumably it’s the attraction of offering intersectionality – where it’s better to get a combined service rather than two disjointed ones – which is the big sell.

Well, Ropes & Gray have now joined the club with its launch of an innovative new consulting service which is claimed to be unprecedented in scope: R&G Insights Lab is said to be the legal industry’s first-ever offering to focus on ‘analytics and behavioral science’. The lab will combine the legal team of Ropes & Gray with experts in analytics, behavioral science, and strategic consulting. Looks potentially very interesting. Worth viewing the video

KINGSLEY NAPLEY BACKS ‘THE LEGAL APPRENTICE’

Stephen Parkinson, Senior Partner at Kingsley Napley

The Legaldiarist is delighted to see that Kingsley Napley has been undeterred by the dreaded C-virus and has pushed ahead with its excellent ‘Legal Apprentice’ competition for schools.

Now in its second year – it was originally developed in conjunction with the Law Page of The Times – ‘The Legal Apprentice’ aims to give school pupils an insight into the knowledge that solicitors need and the interpersonal, communication and problem-solving skills that they apply in their day to day jobs.

Having been slogging away through a series of rounds for several months now the four successful schools – from a total of 700 teams which entered – have been announced for the big final event in September. These includeBurnley College in Lancashire, Fort Pitt Grammar School in Kent, Varndean College in Brighton, and Shenley Brook End School in Buckinghamshire. Unlike last year , however, when the final was hosted by the Times this year’s final will be virtual in form – but then isn’t most lawyersing these days?

“As a firm, we wanted to do something positive to increase social mobility within the legal profession” said Stephen Parkinson,senior partner at Kingsley Napley.  “The Legal Apprentice competition helps to dispel many of the misconceptions pupils might have about a career in the law, demonstrating that it can be accessible, fun and rewarding.” 

In the run up to the final showdown the four schools will be mentored by Kingsley Napley lawyers – a prize in itself. But there are generous financial rewards awaiting as well as the prospect of a Legal Apprenticeship with Kingsley Napley – a truly outstanding and life-changing outcome possible for someone.

INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN?

There is just over six weeks available to make your nominations for the The Inspirational Women in Law Awards which are organised by the ‘First Hundred years’ project.

Now in their fifth year The Inspirational Women in Law Awards seek to ‘identify the trailblazers of the profession who are promoting equality in the legal industry’. Whether they are going to be affected by the ‘trans’ debate remains to be seen – lots of potential issues there – but as things stand the judges will be deciding on the winners in the following categories:

Inspirational Woman of the Year, Under 35 Lawyer of the Year

Inspirational Woman of the Year, In-House Lawyer of the Year

Inspirational Woman of the Year, Solicitor of the Year

Inspirational Woman of the Year, Barrister of the Year

Inspirational Women Awards Champion of the Year (Any gender, any field, making a contribution to equality)

The nominations are open until midnight on 14th September 2020, For more details go to

CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK (Or maybe the decade)

Firms must lead action on racial inequality

says TREVOR STERLING

Is the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign going to change things for ever? Or will it lose momentum amidst a Covid recession and mounting unemployment – including in the legal sector? Come what may this is no time to stop conversations on racial inequality, declares TREVOR STERLING, Partner at Moore Barlow and UK Diversity Legal Awards’ current Lawyer of the Year. But the big question is ‘Are law firms doing enough to create safe spaces for this to happen?’

Since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, USA in May, it has been heartening to see lawyers sharing and speaking out about their experiences of racial inequality. The Black Lives Matter movement put the issue of racial equality firmly on the national agenda in the UK, and yet within the legal profession conversations around race have remained light touch.

The statistics from the Solicitors Regulation Authority give an insight into why – only three percent of lawyers are black. Change cannot therefore be driven through by those suffering racial equality, given they themselves are in the minority. Senior management, irrespective of race, need to act. In a profession that prides itself on fairness and equal treatment, we must ask ourselves whether our barriers to entry are too prohibitive to provide a solution to the problem of racial inequality.

I understand that talking about race can be uncomfortable. For people with a rudimentary understanding of racial issues, there is an understandable fear of exposing ignorance and unintentionally causing offence. For individuals who want to champion diversity and inclusion, it is can be tiring and frightening to speak out and risk exposing yourself. However, if a conversation is uncomfortable, it is likely worth having.

The expectation is now on firms to create, and senior management in particular to encourage, safe environments for open discussion and action. I do not think the profession fully understands the importance of building these safe spaces yet, but encouraging people to ask questions and share personal experiences must happen for us to achieve systemic change and build a more diverse workforce.

From my personal experience, I welcomed Moore Barlow’s Managing Partner, Ed Whittington, sending a vlog to all staff raising the issue of systemic inequality and opening the conversation in May. The firm is taking more action, introducing Leadership Development training with a core component looking to address how leaders can create a culture of psychological safety for everyone at the firm.

Firms must continue the conversation so we can achieve real change – it is time to put action into words.

DEBATE OF THE WEEK

HAVE LAWYER< WILL ZOOM

There’s been an immense amount of comment about the proposals to permit the witnessing of wills by zoom etc. – some for, some against. The precedent-setting Dr NICHOLAS BEVAN, Solicitors Title LLP is very much a supporter.

Within two weeks of joining Solicitors Title LLP, I was presented with an interesting challenge. A client wanted to make a will; but was ensconced 150 miles away in self-isolation due to the onset of the coronavirus lockdown.

The legal profession has been uniform in asserting that section 9 of the Wills Act 1837, which prescribes the formalities for a valid will, insists on the physical presence of a witness. However, when I researched the point, I discovered that nowhere in any of its statutory iterations, which date back to the Statute of Frauds 1677, nor in the extensive body of judicial rulings interpreting them, was this ever stipulated. What the law actually requires is a clear ‘line of sight’: one that enables a witness to attest to the fact that the testator signed or acknowledge the will.

I duly executed the client’s will on 1 May 2020, employing live-streaming video technology to manage and witness the whole procedure remotely from my office. The client didn’t touch or sign a single document. In doing so, I inadvertently set a legal precedent.

I shared my research with the Government in a detailed report, and received a gracious and encouraging reply. However, given that the Law Commission and many others were trenchantly insisting on the need for a physical presence, the government informed me that it had decided to provide legislative clarification.

The government’s press statement last Friday goes some way to clearing the log jam caused by this increasingly polemical issue, confirming ‘video-witnessing’ is capable of constituting a valid ‘presence’ if certain protocols, matching my own, are adhered to and sanctions ‘video witnessed’ Wills made after 31 January 2020. A somewhat bewildering two year time limit follows – surely either video wills are valid under the existing law or they are not!

P.S. But not everyone agrees Philip Collins, Head of Winckworth Sherwood’s Contested Estates comments: “We are very concerned about any watering down of the current requirements. The risk of undue influence is clear – professionals and witnesses cannot be sure who else is in the room when a testator is giving instructions or signing their will. The lack of face-to-face contact makes it that much harder to assess someone’s health and their capacity to make a will. We suspect this will just add to the increasing number of disputed wills and estates in the future.”

On the other hand according to Daniel Watson of Hunters Law: While the strictness of the existing Will-signing requirements acts as a safeguard against fraud and undue influence, the law relating to the witnessing of Wills has nevertheless been slow to adapt to reflect changes in technology and society (in contrast with areas of law such as contract law, where the use of technology to facilitate the signing of documents has been much more readily incorporated).


Read also

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice-points/the-need-for-certainty-on-wills/5105105.article by Nick Bevan

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/video-wills-risky-and-unnecessary-solicitors-claim/5105165.article

BLOGS OF THE WEEK

FORSTERS ON REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENTS

In this funny old Summer it is difficult to gauge who is on holiday, who is working flat out and who is just twiddling their thumbs waiting for something to happen.

Fortunately for lawyers in the real estate business the Government and the Law Commission have been busy proposing and making real changes which should stir up in interest – and then activity – among the clients.

The main proposals cover leaseholders. Although changes to leaseholders’ rights came in a few years ago they did not make much impact. Now reforms to leasehold enfranchisement and commonhold look set to give bite to leaseholders who feel that they are still getting a bad deal. To help galvanise reaction Forsters has seized on the announcements to issue in the past few days a series of blogs which scope out the changes and indicate the issues that people need to think about to take advantage of them.

The blogs now available are

Meanwhile, the government’s attempts to perk up the High Street through changing the use classes orders from September are described in Changes to the Use Classes Order in England by Planning Senior Associate, Laura Parrish [Go to https://www.forsters.co.uk/news/blog/changes-use-classes-order-england-planning-permission-development-rights ]

Blog-power – showing the world you know!

PODCAST OF THE WEEK

– DECHERT ON COMPLIANCE

Dechert is continuing with its regular Coffee Break Compliance Broadcast Series. Episode Four on Due Diligence came out last week. “This series provides insight on several issues, including how to instill corporate values, ensure maximum engagement from remote training, revisit risk assessments and due diligence processes, monitor financial controls and leverage technology,” says the firm. Each broadcast runs approximately 10 minutes.

Go to https://www.dechert.com/knowledge/event-and-webinar/2020/7/coffee-break-compliance-broadcast-series—episode-four–due-dil.html?utm_source=vuture&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=onpoint

LEGAL LONDON SHOTS OF THE WEEK

– THE ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE

We continue with our occasional series with some snaps and snappy comment on the RCJ by Dan Dodman, Partner at GOODMAN DERRICK LLP

The Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand /Fleet Street

The Royal Courts of Justice are the most recognisable legal building in the city and seem to sum up the elegance and mystic associated with the profession as a whole. I certainly remember the dread of attempting to pay Court fees to have a claim issued shortly before 4pm on a Friday and having to negotiate the labyrinthine corridors to numerous offices without any real idea where I was going. How much easier do young trainees have it in the Rolls building?!

The building was allocated £1,453,000 of public money in 1865 for purchase and building. Initially expected to take six years, construction dragged on for a further two as a result of employment wrangles (stonemasons on strike), bad weather and financial distress. Queen Victoria herself opened the building in 1882, but the architect, G.E. Street, had already died during the build – it is said down to the stress of the project itself. The RCJ’s 35 million bricks and three miles of corridors represent his legacy in many ways.

It is said that there are over 1,000 clocks in the building and there is a gentleman who comes in twice a week to wind them and keep them on time. How else to work out whether you have missed that key 4pm deadline or not?

ARTWORK OF THE WEEK – THE BLANK CANVASS

These is a gap on our ‘wall’ this week where a terrific art work from a law firm should be on display.

For next week – and the weeks to follow – we should love to hear from firms who would like to present an image and some comment on their favourite in-house painting, sculpture or photos. We are very grateful to those firms who have contributed some of their key works over the past five months but we are keen to throw a wider net. Please get in contact if you have art on your walls – probably unseen at this time and which you would like to share.

CONTACT

We hope that you have enjoyed this editon of the Legal Diary. Please share it with colleagues and continue sending your news and comment to

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Thursday July 23 2020 Lunchtime publication Edition 18

Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and arts from the legal world

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

– NHS ANTI-HEROES?

Tonight on BBC1 at 9.00 PM a pack of celebrities will be celebrating the NHS’s Superheroes. That’s all well and good but the constant bombard of praise for the UK’s doctors and nurses is in danger of providing cover for the undoubted failures and errors within the NHS. This is embodied most notably by the horrendous problems in NHS maternity units at Shrewsbury & Telford.

But according to Nicola Wainwright, clinical negligence partner at JMW Solicitors failures in care and the reports of families being treated with a lack of kindness and respect are not unusual.I have met many families who have had similar awful experiences at different hospitals and whose concerns have not be heeded and whose stories have not been listened to. The real question is why these failures and shoddy treatment were allowed to continue. That brings into question the ability and/or willingness of the NHS to learn from its mistakes to improve patient safety. It also raises the question as to why it is the families and not doctors, nurses, hospital managers or complaints or compliance teams or NHS England or the healthcare regulatory bodies that have led to these independent investigations.”

Unfortunately it is unlikely that any of the celebs on the BBC tonight will be asking those questions.

The Legaldiarist

LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

EDGING IT

With all the throbbing and portentous urgency of a new car launch Thomson Reuters announced this week the arrival of Westlaw Edge, the company’s ‘next-generation legal research system for the UK market’. The vibrant bowing of violins signalled that this was something which was going to rock the world of smart young lawyers – and maybe older ones too – keen to show off that they were ahead of the game when it came to new developments in the law. Big frame pictures of a railway terminal and an island – at least I think that’s what they were – sent out subliminal messages about the dangers of being adrift in an environment of endless shifting change where the only hope of rescue comes in the shape of a computer screen displaying Westlaw Edge in all its reassuring , slick immediacy.

So, yes, there was a lot of super-hype going on. But, of course, the ad. was correct. Clients come to lawyers because they want to have the latest analysis of the law and its regualr updating. And if you don’t have it then they will go elsewhere. And as Thomsons Reuters points out, they are building on ‘200 years of legal content’ so they know what they are talking about allowing users ‘to stay ahead of regulatory change and navigate the legal divergence with the EU.’

So this is the law made into a high tech, quasi-engineering exercise with a user interface which displays ‘the right tools in the context of the legal research session, including new filters, updated toolbars, documents optimised for easier scanning, and more.’ Plus a lot of case analytics. To put it crudely, Thomson Reuters has put in the hard work of keeping abreast of new legislation so that you don’t have to. But the question to put to ‘the answer company’ is ‘Where does this led to next?’

PRIDE OF KENT

At last – after 450 years we have a new office!

Thomson Reuters might have access to over 200 years of legal records but another Thomson , Thomson Snell & Passmore‘s claim to fame, goes back more than twice that far. So this week the Kent-based firm is celebrating the 450th anniversary of its foundation in 1570 when Nicholas Hooper, a curate of Tonbridge Parish Church set up his legal practice. Over the years one client led to another, partners came and went, new outfits joined and there were a series of name changes so that the title Thomson Snell & Passmore was not actually settled upon until 1968. Nonetheless the Guinness Book of Records has recognised a genuine chain of continuity across the centuries and awarded TSP the title of oldest law firm in operation across the whole world.

No doubt had it not been for Covid-19 all sorts of junketing would be taking place across these Summer months. As it is, the firm has just released a forty minute video of a panel discussion of distinguished partners, current and recent, reflecting on the firm’s resilience and longevity. [FULL DISCLOSURE AND SPOILER ALERT TSP kindly invited The Legaldiarist to chair the panel discussion].

Meanwhile though, as the firm points out, 2020 marks a key year in its history as it has also recently appointed a new senior partner – Joanna Pratt – in succession to James Partridge, who held the role since 2008. Commenting on the anniversary, Sarah Henwood, the firm’s CEO said, “Today is a momentous one for Thomson Snell & Passmore. We’re very proud of our long history, and we recognise that we wouldn’t be here today unless we were able to embrace change. From leading the way as early adopters of technology in the 1970’s and setting up a publishing arm producing the first set of legal precedents (which we later sold to Sweet & Maxwell), anticipating and responding to change is part of our DNA. As we start to navigate a ‘new normal’ with coronavirus continuing to impact on all aspects of life, this ability to predict and adapt to change will be more important than ever.”

To see the Thomson Snell & Passmore video ALUMNI panel discussion go to 

https://www.ts-p.co.uk/news/marking-thomson-snell-and-passmore-s-unique-history

TIMELY MEASURE

EU Disclosure Regulation lies just over the horizon – March 2021 being the key date – and to guide travellers unfamiliar with this new terrain Macfarlanes has published this week a very useful timeline – a model of its kind – as to what happens when as we advance towards it. See

https://sites-macfarlanes.vuturevx.com/47/2166/uploads/esg-timeline-final.pdf

The Disclosure Regulation (or ESG Regulation/SFDR as it is known to its friends), is part of a broader legislative package under the European Commission’s Sustainable Action Plan. It requires firms to make strategic business and policy decisions regarding their approach to ESG which must be disclosed on their website and elsewhere. Although the focus of the Disclosure Regulation is the provision of information to investors, clients and other stakeholders, it is clear that the preparation of accurate and comprehensive information on ESG will be burdensome – so it’s the time to get started. Look at that timeline now.

[Post-script: Macfarlanes has a knack for well-produced visuals. Way back in 2005 it published a guide to IP legislation called ‘the brandbook’ – the coolest piece of hard-backed communication ever to come out of a law firm].

BACKING AFRICA



Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Slow to feel the initial impact of Covis-19 Africa now seems to bearing its full brunt. Meanwhile issues of growth and sustainabity are ever more urgent and were at the heart of Hogan Lovells’ seventh annual Africa Forum held earlier this week.

Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the First Female President of Liberia & Nobel Peace Laureate, appeared as the impassioned keynote speaker to an online audience of business leaders. Addressing the Covid-19 crisis facing the continent she said, “”The prevailing wisdom is that our continent will survive this pandemic but the effects it will leave are enormous. The truth is that unless we address the issues of the pandemic and its presenting challenges… not only are we all ultimately susceptible to poor health but also we risk all other aspects of our collective existence and enduring partnerships.”

Moving on to climate change Sirleaf observed, “It is a fact that Africa, unlike other regions of the world, has contributed less to the climate crisis we now face. However, such is the interconnectedness of our world that despite this and the fact that many on the continent are without electricity, Africa faces a higher burden than most on changes for climate. Is Africa ready for sustainable values? Is Africa ready to resume full responsibility for its development? Yes. Africa is ready.”

After the conference the Head of the Hogan Lovells Africa Practice, Andrew Skipper, said: “I was delighted to host our 7th Africa Forum virtually and with such an exceptional array of speakers. We were determined to remain present in Africa despite being in the midst of the global pandemic, COVID-19, and we did so. To say Covid-19 has changed the world is an understatement and featured as a backdrop to our discussions. The immediate and lasting effect of the virus is still reverberating, and whilst it will undoubtedly have a fundamental impact on the way we do business in Africa, from Africa and across Africa, the positive and robust discussions showed a way forward brimming with hope.”

LEGAL ARTWORK OF THE WEEK

ALEXIS HARDING AT LINKLATERS

An artistic environment in a corporate setting can stimulate creative thought and examination. That’s why many of the top law firms have invested in art collections – and it might be one of the losses of ‘working from home’. At Linklaters Curator CATHERINE SHEARN has sought out paintings and artworks which reveal the process and deliberation behind the artists’ works. By including preparatory sketches, studies and works where the artist’s hand is clearly evident, she hopes to encourage, subliminally or directly, a creative thought process in the viewer. Here Catherine describes one of the most prominent pictures confronting visitors when they arrive in the firm’s London office.



Alexis Harding Double Rebound – Oil and gloss on canvas

Watching over the visitors to the (at this moment, empty) waiting area in Linklaters’ reception is a striking abstract painting. Two large pink circles appear to have collapsed at the bottom of the canvas by Alexis Harding. On closer inspection, their journey across the surface of the painting is revealed in the traces left on the black background.

Harding’s method involves pouring gloss paint onto a wet oil surface, in this case forming two circles. The paint is then left to dry and over a period of months is pushed, pulled, and squeezed into position. They reveals a dramatic scarred and puckered surface, giving clues about the journey of the moving paint circles, and encouraging the viewer to reflect on the artist’s process and the work involved in creating this piece.

This work follows a long line of abstract painters who have experimented and pushed ideas of abstraction using form, colour and materials. The choice of the circle echoes other artists in this collection – Tess Jaray, Jennifer Durrant, Terry Frost, Barbara Hepworth and Clifford Fishwick rely on this familiar motif in other works around the building – but Harding playfully disrupts the form of his painting by letting the materiality take over

Alexis Harding won the prestigious John Moores Painting Prize in 2004, and has been a key part of a contemporary movement loosely called Process Painting. The subtlety of his work and the analytical exploration of his medium appeals to many at Linklaters – he is a confident and single minded artist who has made his own path out of finding the beauty in process. Hopefully his exploration of paint and its properties provokes comparable questions in the minds of the staff and visitors who engage with this painting.

The Legaldiarist hopes that you have enjoyed this Summer edition. Do share with colleagues and contacts and please continue sending your news to fennell.edward@yahoo.com

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Thursday July 16 2020 Lunchtime publication Edition 17

Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and arts from the legal world

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK WHERE’S THE TRUTH?

The daily arrival at the Royal Courts of Justice of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard – both wearing elegant , colourful masks over their faces – has reinforced the sense that this case is all about showbiz and everyone involved is a grand-standing bandit. And so the question arises of where JUSTICE can be found in this mess of immaturity and self-indulgence.

It is useful to remember then, as Emily Cox, a partner of Stewarts, points out, “English libel law is different from many other jurisdictions, including the US. The burden of proof [ in this kind of defamation case] is on the defendants to prove the truth of their case, not on the claimant – i.e., not Depp.”

So while the general public can wallow in the squalid details of Depp’s marriage this may be mostly immaterial. As Emily Cox puts it, “To win their defence, NGN and Wootton need to prove that their specific statement about Depp that was published in The Sun was in itself factually true.” Worth bearing in mind as the case moves towards summing up.

The Legaldiarist

CONTENTS

+ HOT LEGAL STORY OF THE DAY

+ LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

+ FLOP OF THE WEEK – UNEXPLAINED WEALTH ORDERS?

+ LEGAL TOPIC OF THE WEEK THE NHS: NO LONGER OFF LIMITS ?

+ WEBINAR OF THE WEEK

+ ARTWORKS OF THE WEEK – DENTONS

HOT LEGAL STORY OF THE DAY – US vs EU OVER PRIVACY SHIELD

While the world’s biggest rivalry between a beleaguered US and an advancing China starts to play out you might think that the uncomfortable relationship between the US and the EU is a mere sideshow. But there are important practical business issues here too as embodied in the Schrems-Facebook case where the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled today that the Privacy Shield scheme for transfers of personal data from the EU to the United States is unlawful,.

“This judgment is the second major blow delivered to the US privacy and data protection legal framework by the EU Court of Justice relating to the Snowden disclosures,” said Stewart Room, Global Head of Data Protection and Cyber Security at DWF. “In today’s climate of unstable transatlantic political relationships, it is unlikely to meet with approval in the US. However, this is not just a US problem. Twice now the European Commission has tried to reach an agreement with the US on data protection, only to have its efforts ruled unlawful. There needs to be a different mindset to how the challenges of international transfers to the US are met, because failed schemes like this have significant impacts for individuals and for businesses [who] will be asking themselves ‘what is next’? There are other countries that pose challenges to privacy rights and data protection and they raise obvious questions about the potential for other legal action.”

Eduardo Ustaran, co-head of the global Privacy and Cybersecurity practice at Hogan Lovells, emphasises that this goes beyond just the US-EU relationship. It is important not to frame it only as a conflict between European privacy versus U.S. surveillance. The Court is reiterating its previous stance in similar cases where irrespective of the practical consequences, European data protection rights will always prevail over disproportionate interference by governments.”

Helpfully Toni Vitale, partner and head of data protection at JMW Solicitors, offers four main takeaways from the case:

1. The EU-US Privacy Shield is now invalidated so it is now an unlawful to transfer personal data to the USA using the Privacy Shield;

2. Data exporters and importers using the standard contract clauses must verify the level of protection in the 3rd country first.  The importer also has a duty to report any issues to the exporter.

3. EU data protection authorities (the equivalents of the UK’s ICO) have a new role in assessing third countries’ protection and could ban exports of data to certain countries.

4. Post Brexit, the UK could be deemed to have inadequate protection given the lack of judicial oversight over the security forces – and this could this lead to a ban on exports of data from the EU to the UK in the future.

On the latter point Mishcon de Reya Partner Adam Rose says that while this is a hugely significant decision by the European Court of Justice ;which may shape the future of global trade the impact on post-Brexit UK might be to its advantage making it “an attractive place for US companies to base operations.”

 (And as to ‘Jucicial oversight over the security forces’? Surely we can rely on Chris Grayling for that? He might not be the chair of the Commons security committee but he was an exceptional Lord Chancellor!)

LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

 True and Fair?

Lawyers versus Accountants – whom do you trust more? A bit of a no-brainer this one. Unfortunately for the accountants any suggestion that EY and its mess-up with Wirecard was a one-off anomaly has been shot to pieces by the revelation this week that the FRC’s annual spot check of audit quality revealed that a third of company audits fell significantly short of the required standards. That’s up from 26% a year ago.

What makes this more sinister is that these failures are not just the result of sloppiness. In recent days the FRC has fined and reprimanded Grant Thornton in respect of ‘ethical and control standards’ in its audit work. Meanwhile the high profile scandal surrounding the auditing of Autonomy has put Deloitte under the spotlight. As Tom Snelling of Signature Litigation puts it, “This caps a dramatic five days for accountancy firms and those calling for radical change in auditor oversight.  All of this puts pressure on Number 10 to find legislative time to put the FRC’s successor, the Audit Reporting and Governance Authority, on a statutory footing.  The UK Government is understandably distracted by the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis, but that crisis could itself exacerbate audit risks, reinforcing the need to get the new regulator on the statute books.” 

The doubly troubling aspect is that this is all reminiscent of what happened almost two decades ago at Enron. That scandal resulted in the sensational disappearance of Arthur Andersen, previously believed to be the most prestigious of the Top Five accountants. And where did the Andersen accountants go? Many found fresh jobs and new starts at Deloitte.

So, yes, I think I’d trust a lawyer more than an accountant.


Your Number’s Come Up

Smiles all round at the Community Justice Fund which has just hit the jackpot following the award of a £5 million grant from The National Lottery Community Fund.

The main beneficiaries are likely to be not-for-profit social welfare law advice agencies who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re incredibly grateful to have secured this grant from The National Lottery Community Fund and will continue to administer grants via the Community Justice Fund to provide urgent help to legal advice charities as they face the impacts of the pandemic,” said Lord Goldsmith QC, Chair of the Access to Justice Foundation which part-sponsors the CJF.Specialist legal advice organisations are in place across the country to help people who face complex and multiple disadvantages in areas such as debt, disability, discrimination, employment, housing and welfare benefits. In this time of crisis, demand for these essential services is increasing dramatically, so support for the sector is needed now more than ever.”

Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Community Fund, added, “We’re grateful to National Lottery players for making this emergency response possible.” So keep picking those numbers.

For further information on the Community Justice Fund go to www.communityjusticefund.org.uk

Make Legal Careers Accessible

Against the background of BLM and other moves to create a level playing field for all ethnic groups and social classes PRIME (the alliance of law firms across the UK, committed to improving access to the legal profession through work experience) has commissioned the agency ‘Mykindafuture’ to deliver a series of digital workshops for students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds across the UK this autumn.

The project builds on work already undertaken with a number of law firms including Brodies, DWF, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Pinsent Masons, along with support from Thorntons.

The sessions will be delivered to pupils in the top years of secondary schools living in what are regarded as the UK’s social mobility ‘cold spots’, where a lack of opportunities and awareness of professional careers often prevents young people from pursuing viable careers such as the law.

Kirstie Maclennan of Brodies’ who led the PRIME working group said “I am delighted that the hard work that went into the pilot showed what a difference several law firms working together could make and provided a springboard for PRIME to launch this major project with MyKindaFuture”.

 Meanwhile Will Akerman, Founder and MD at MyKindaFuture, explains: “We’re working with PRIME to help inspire, motivate and support young people when it comes to their career options. We want to open their eyes to the possibility of working in the legal sector by becoming a lawyer, paralegal, conveyancer or any other role that grabs their attention.

For more information, visit https://www.mykindafuture.com/ and https://primecommitment.co.uk/

Everyone happy?

It’s a good thing that more young people from a wider range of backgrounds are being encouraged to enter the law – but just how desirable a career is it? Obviously salaries tends to be much higher than the national average (apart, that is, from those who work at the criminal bar) but a recent global survey from the Mosaic Collective has highlighted that not everyone is thrilled by their work. In particular the future of the profession is a cause for concern for nearly half (49 %), with digitalisation, AI and technology given as the biggest worry (24 %), followed by adapting to change (11 %).

Meanwhile .nearly all the lawyers surveyed (94 %) are taking work stresses home with them, and just over half (51 %) struggle to talk about how they’re feeling. “In contrast to the perception of lawyers as ‘go-getters’, over a third (39 %) have no career plan and nearly 90 % feel like their manager isn’t looking out for them. Strikingly 70% say they don’t have time to make a change for the better,” says the report. Well, after Covid-19 they now might.

FLOP OF THE WEEK – UNEXPLAINED WEALTH ORDERS?

Unveiled as being the cunning new weapon in the armoury of the authorities to hit hard dodgy characters in their bank accounts, Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) are starting to lose their appeal.

This follows the legal bill of £1.5 million stuck on the the National Crime Agency after an abortive attempt to impose UWOs on three London properties worth £80 million linked to a wealthy Kazakh family. “Although Unexplained Wealth Orders were hailed as a revolutionary tool in the fight to uncover alleged money laundering, they have proved costly and difficult to deploy.” commented Bambos Tsiattalou, of criminal defence firm, Stokoe Partnership Solicitors. “Ultimately, the taxpayer foots the bill and they would expect to see more bite rather than bark.”

As ever the moral should be ‘Underpromise and over-deliver’. Sadly not too much is seen of that in any aspect of public adminstrartion today. Rather like claims over ‘Best in the world’ track and trace, UWOs make good sound bites but fall short on delivery.

LEGAL TOPIC OF THE WEEK

THE NHS: NO LONGER OFF LIMITS FOR LEGAL ACTION?

Ellen Robertson-Temple Garden Chambers

The clapping is over for the NHS. Does that mean it is now fair game for legal action asks ELLEN ROBERTSON, a barrister at Temple Garden Chambers

A former NHS official has announced his plans to sue the health service after he was told that he would need to wait longer for cancer treatment due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The retired NHS trust executive was diagnosed with prostate cancer on 19 March 2020, four days before the start of lockdown. After a delay before his initial appointment with a consultant, he was told that the wait for a biopsy would be two or three months. Concerned at the delay, he opted for a private biopsy, which confirmed the tumour was aggressive. He then paid for private treatment at a cost of £20,000.

Many other patients with cancer and other serious illnesses will have faced disruption to vital treatment due to Covid-19, but it is too early to predict whether there will be an influx of claims of this nature. Gratitude and strength of feeling for the NHS may deter some, but some suffering financial loss, particularly in a challenging economy, may consider themselves without another option.

Some have called for a public debate over NHS compensation claims, with the Medical Defence Union arguing for doctors to be granted immunity from negligence claims for treatment during the Covid-19 crisis. Several US states, including New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Michigan, have passed immunity provisions. The UK has taken a different path, with the Coronavirus Act 2020 providing broad indemnity protection, rather than immunity from suit, for healthcare workers.

Will claims arising out of delayed treatment succeed? As with all clinical negligence claims, a vital question will be context – Covid-19 will not be an acceptable catch-all explanation for delays, but the standard of care expected by the courts will reflect the need for prioritisation during the lockdown. The courts will consider whether procedures were implemented to prioritise patients most in need, including whether National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on rapid treatment were properly followed.

WEBINAR OF THE WEEK ‘ALERT’

RESTRUCTURING AND INSOLVENCY’

Wednesday 22 July @ 1.00 – 1.45 pm

The Centre for Legal Leadership will be running a webinar on ‘Restructuring and Insolvency: The Post Covid-19 Options’ to be hosted by Paul Bagon. a partner in RPC‘s Restructuring & Insolvency team. Under review will be the options available to assist businesses navigate the myriad financial challenges, potential recovery paths and opportunities in a changed economy. The topics to be addressed include

  • Restructuring v insolvency
  • Stakeholder considerations
  • Directors’ duties
  • Key measures introduced under the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020

To register contact admin@legalleadership.co.uk

ARTWORKS OF THE WEEK

DENTONS ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF ITS NINTH ART PRIZE

Untitled (Whig) by Amanda Denny

In this difficult time for artists Dentons has announced that the £5,000 prize money for its annual art prize will be distributed between all eleven shortlisted artists namely Alastair Gordon, Alexander Stavrou, Amanda Denny, Anna Freeman Bentley, Daniel Pettitt, Morris, Josh Rowell, Margaux Derhy, Osian Jenaer, Simone Mudde and Xiuching Tsay. As part of the initiative, the shortlisted artists will display their work at Dentons’ London office and are given access to expert pro bono legal advice.

Lucille De Silva, partner in Dentons’ London office, said, “The aim of the Dentons Art Prize is to support the best emerging artists with a monetary award at a crucial stage of their creative careers and to enhance the working environment of our clients and lawyers with a changing collection of cutting-edge art. In these challenging times we can only really achieve our first goal, and the Dentons Art Committee agreed with our judges that sharing the prize was the best decision we could make in order to make a difference to all the talented and shortlisted artists. Each artist is a worthy winner.”

Judge Angela Samata said, “I’m not sure a decision made by a jury I’ve sat on has ever felt more like the right thing to do. At this time of global emergency, we decided that we had an opportunity to make a small but significant contribution to all our artists, and so we decided to divide the prize money equally amongst them.”

NOTE: Download the excellent digital brochure of the winning works from the right hand column of

https://www.dentons.com/en/home/whats-different-about-dentons/an-entrepreneurial-approach-to-pro-bono-and-social-responsibility/pro-bono-in-the-uk-and-middle-east

Eclectic by Anna Bentley courtesy of the artist and Frestonian Gallery, London

Do circulate this edition of the Legal Diary to colleagues and contacts and please continue sending your stories and opinions to

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Thursday July 9 2020 Lunchtime publication Edition 16

Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and arts from the legal world

SHORT THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

– FITTING IN WITH RFC

The announcement by the cream of City law firms – including Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Clifford Chance, DWF, Dentons, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Linklaters, Macfarlanes, Norton Rose Fulbright, Pinsent Masons, RPC, Slaughter and May, Travers Smith and White & Case – that they will sign up to the Race Fairness Commitment (RFC) is potentially a landmark development in creating mechanisms for monitoring and enforcing equal opportunities in the legal workplace.

Much of this new environment will hinge on the collection of data. But there is also a cultural dimension to the move. In particular the RFC includes an explicit commitment to continue to foster workplaces where BAME people can ‘be themselves at work as much as White people – without feeling the need to be inauthentic in terms of their speech or culture, simply in order to “fit in”’.

The interesting point here is that there are plenty of white law graduates – crudely characterised maybe as ‘bog-standard comp-educated kids from Essex’ – who also feel that they are discriminated against on grounds of accent, manner and origin. Historically, those who have managed – against the odds – to get through the system have done so by adapting fast to their new environment. Maybe they too will no longer feel the pressure to do so.

The Legaldiarist

THE LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

Doesn’t Work For everyone

Veteran law business leader Sir Nigel Knowles is rapidly making his presence felt as the Group CEO at beleaguered DWF. Having floated on the Stock Exchange in the Spring of last year DWF was always going to be a test case for the viability and sustainability of the new model of ownership. And, to give it the benefit of the doubt, the conditions created by Covid-19 were bound to create an adverse environment.

But things did not go well and it required the smack of decisive management to stop a slide into catastrophe. Knowles’ arrival on the scene – quite literally a knight riding to the rescue – has delivered that through major cost savings and a new way of managing. As a result, this morning the firm was able to report strong trading in the first two months of the financial year and organic revenue growth of c.6% year-on-year plus other improvements. Nonetheless questions have been raised as to whether DWF has effectively pulled the plug on other floats by law firms. Maybe so for the foreseeable future. But what it really underlines is that a very different management style and culture is required. Does that suit the typical lawyer’s temperament? Right now, probably not.

Gold – Mine! Mine! Mine!

In whatever light one might regard the calamitous state of things in Venezuela it does throw up complicated legal scenarios. Hence it was that last week the courts in London decided that a hoard of gold held by the Bank of England on behalf of the Venezuelan central bank should not be handed back to Venezuela on the grounds that the presiding Maduro regime was not legitimate.

As Sarosh Zaiwalla, the British lawyer from Zaiwalla & Co. acting for the bank, observed after the judgment had been handed down, “It is very rare for a case of such international legal importance to be decided by reference to legal questions alone without taking into account the facts on the ground, and still rarer for an English Commercial Court to be told that it can only decide a question in the way that the Government says it must. This has led to the unusual result in this case that while at the same time acknowledging the UK’s full diplomatic relations with Mr Maduro’s government, the Court has also upheld as valid in England Mr Guaidó’s acts of appointment [the opposition leader claiming to be the righful President] which are considered unlawful and invalid in Venezuela.”

(Fortunately in the UK we can be content that the Supreme Court never gets drawn into political controversies of a constitutional nature – perish the thought!).

Did We Pass?

We are not out of the woods yet over the C-Virus but we are in a position to start taking stock on how well we coped with the enormous jolt to the system.

According to this week’s ‘Looking Glass’ report, from global law firm Clyde & Co and Winmark, (the professional network organisation) there is general satisfaction with how business responded to the unprecedented threat posed by the illness in terms of working practices, operating procedures and technology.

“COVID-19 has had a profound impact across the business landscape with old certainties blown away overnight.,” said Peter Hirst, Clyde & Co Senior Partner. “One of the positives to have come out of this crisis has been the ability of so many organisations to rapidly adapt, not least by shifting to remote working models and adopting new technologies. Now the immediate shift has taken place, risk management and mitigation must remain central considerations for boards and their general counsel as they seek to address the longer-term challenges and opportunities the pandemic has presented them with.” In other words the real challenge starts now.

Back to Work? Not necessarily

This morning at nine o clock BDB Pitmans ran an Employment Webinar on the grim topic of ‘Collective Redundancy Consultation – What do you need to know?’ I am afraid that I was too busy writing this to be able to join in but past experience of the firm’s seminars suggest that it would have been very thorough. After all less than a fortnight ago it ran one on ‘Back to the Workplace – the Do’s and Don’ts’.

So what has changed since? Maybe the Chancellor’s largesse from yesterday wasn’t quite as generous or comprehensive enough to allay fears that large scale lay-offs are just around the corner.

And, er – what happens next?

Following the revelations of what has been going on at Wirecard in Germany their auditors EY, the creative accountancy firm formerly known as Ernst & Young, is facing all kinds of trouble. But it has also resurrected the old debate about the need to separate out auditing from consultancy services. This goes back for two decades or more and was brought to life originally around the time of the collapse of Enron whose auditors then were Arthur Andersen.

Andersen also had a law firm and it seemed at the time that everything was lost. But not quite. On both sides of the Atlantic Andersen has come back to life and in Europe, of late, it has been operating under the brands Andersen Tax, Andersen Legal and Andersen Tax & Legal. However with perfect timing these have now announced that they will ‘demonstrate the unified and seamless approach of the global tax and legal firm’ by just operating as Andersen.

“Our common brand, Andersen, is reflective of our ‘one firm’ culture and encompasses all that we do as a global organization,” said Mark Vorsatz, Andersen Global Chairman and Andersen CEO. “It signifies our ability to provide best-in-class service and our deep commitment to investing in our people.” What was it that someone once said about history repeating itself?

ARTWORK OF THE WEEK – SOOYOUNG CHUNG

at DLA PIPER

Consultant Cornelius Medvei, who has largely selected and coordinates the extensive art collection at DLA Piper, introduces Royal College of Art graduate Sooyoung Chung whose work now hangs in the firm’s Aldersgate Street office.

 “I chose this artist as her work has resonated particularly strongly with everyone in the office, clients and staff alike,” explains Cornelius Medvei. “These two pieces were some of the first pieces we bought – from her degree show at the Royal College in 2018 – to add to our collection in anticipation of the move to 160 Aldersgate Street. We hang them together and they complement one another very well.” 

Sooyoung Chung’s practice considers prosaic architectural spaces and the everyday objects that  fill them. Her painting ​Monday ​ depicts cardboard boxes and office envelopes atop a cluttered  desk, hinting that someone has just left the room in the middle of working. Meanwhile ​The Other Space  Confirmed Bachelor ​ is populated by keys strewn on a table, coffee cups, bananas and pills. The  seaweed of a decorative aquarium is visually coupled with the design of a vacuum cleaner  hanging on a wall. Her painterly style shifts from the hyper-realistic to the graphically stylised and  she flattens out space to create depthless, motionless scenes.  

 “I look at things around me,” says Sooyoung. “I observe objects around me. I observe the silence of things in  front of me. I sometimes think that the beings of silence wander in the air and rest for a  moment in the things [they pass]. It is as if the soul was swallowed by another’s body.” 

Please keep sending your stories and images to fennell.edward@yahoo.com

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Thursday July 2 2020 Lunchtime publication Edition 15

Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and arts from the legal world

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Thirty-three years ago this week, the Legaldiarist started writing about law firms and the legal world. A review of the diary of that time shows thataside from Simmons & Simmons and Slaughter and May all the law firms featured in those first few months have now disappeared. So while the overall trajectory for the law business has been upwards bigger, more international and more diverse many firms have found it a difficult path to tread.

Right now that path has become even more slippery and steep. No one knows any longer the formula for long-term survival. To coin a phrase, ‘Stay Alert’ is about as wise as one can get. But, also, to read a headline in the legal press this week that announces ‘Andersen Global Enters Caribbean with Collaborations in 4 locations’ demonstrates that, sometimes, there can be life after (seeming) death.

The Legaldiarist

In the week’s edition

+ The Legal Diary

+ Artworks of the Week at Travers Smith

+ Locations of Legal London – Temple Bar

p.s with Summer now here The Legal Diary is scaling down somewhat for the next few weeks – but do, please, keep sending in your stories.

THE LEGAL DIARY

Lock ‘Em Up

It’s a big day today in the fight by the determined campaigner Simon Dolan to overturn the government’s lockdown strategy as the High Court hears an application for permission to seek Judicial Review.

The nice irony, of course, is that because of the lockdown the hearing will take place via video link and not physically in the High Court. Anyone who wants to observe the proceedings will only be given Skype access at the discretion of the judge. So what about justice being seen to be done? But compounding the irony is that the lock-down is about to be lifted – at least partially in England- on Saturday. So if Mr Dolan and his team are successful they can – if they wait 36 hours – go out and celebrate in some suitable hostelry. (How long, incidentally, before a certain pub is re-branded as ‘The Whig and Keyboard’?).

But, jokes aside, these are serious issues which are setting precedents for the future. How far should democracies succumb to arbitrary restrictions on freedom to travel and socialise? So a lot hangs on the jousting today between Philip Havers QC for Mr Dolan and, probably Sir James Eadie QC, the Government’s counsel. Like the virus itself the case might be microscopic but the ramifications to the body politic are enormous.

You Take the High Road

Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled by a majority of 3 to 2 that Mr Charles Villiers – who is related to the Duchess of Cornwall – would not be allowed to have key aspects of his divorce from Mrs Villiers heard in Scotland. Instead they can go to England. Mr Villiers’ motive, it is fair to say, is that England’s courts tend to be much more generous than those in Scotland to wives. But, significantly, the only element in the divorce to go south are the maintenance arrangements. “This “loophole” that the wife has successfully found is linked to the EU Maintenance Regulations but is embodied in domestic law as part of the jurisdictional interplay with Scotland,” commented Julian Hawkhead of Stowe Family Law.

Of course everything these days is viewed through the lens of either Scottish independence or Brexit. Or in this case both. As Laura Burrows of Collyer Bristow points out, Lord Wilson – the court’s most experienced family judge and part of the dissenting minority – was moved  to pen “A  highly unusual postscript to his judgment that is searingly critical of the ramifications of the majority decision. The tactic used by the wife in this case is only applicable between England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and is likely only to be available until 31 December 2020, upon Brexit being finalised.” How this will impact on Scottish wives who are eyeing up divorce to vote in IndyRef2 remains to be seen.

Hidden Gold in overlooked IP?

All sorts of special measures linked to Covid-19 are now starting to see their horizons looming with a hint/nudge/shudder that ‘normal’ life is about to return. One of the most overlooked deadlines, probably, is the ending of the special ‘interrupted days’ period introduced by the UKIPO at the start of the Covid crisis. This had the effect of extending the application dates for patents, supplementary protection certificates, trade marks and designs. And a jolly good thing it was too. But July 30 now looks likely to be the date when it’s back to the old regime.

Never one to waste a good deadline Joe Dearing of Global Intellectual Property Solutions at UnitedLex and his new pal Patrick Woolley, IP Department Chair at Polsinelli, are now encouraging in-house lawyers to take advantage of this prompt and make more of their IP assets to help their companies through the Coronavirus-challenged economy. “Smart Intellectual Property investment and management is one of the levers GCs can pull to successfully deliver new revenue opportunities,” they say, pretty much with one voice as their two organizations have come together blending Polsinelli’s patent experience with the ‘workflow engineering’ of legal services company UnitedLex.

Mind you, it hardly needs to be said that probably the most valuable IP in the word right now lies in a cure for this Covid-19 virus. Does one of your clients have the next dexamethasone? Worth checking out.

Computer Says ‘No Comment’

Channel 5 ran a fascinating documentary on Tuesday evening about the Harold Shipman case ‘Five Mistakes which caught a Killer’ (OK, it was a repeat but isn’t everything these days?). One of these mistakes related to Shipman’s attempt to edit the case records of his victims on his GP practice’s computer. The IT specialist police sergeant who caught him out declared triumphantly on camera “The computer doesn’t lie.”

Ironically that was exactly the same claim made by the Post Office in its pursuit of the sub-postmasters whom it alleged had been fiddling their ‘books’ on the Horizon computer system. But whereas the police were right about Shipman, the Post Office authorities could not have been more wrong over the sub-postmasters. The Horizon system was plagued with malfunctions.

As previously reported in this blog, sorting out the horrendous consequences has been – like Windrush – long drawn out and still continues. The latest developments include 45 (or more) of these cases being referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to the Court of Appeal. The CCRC says there was an “abuse of the process of the court” by the Post Office. A further 900 prosecutions have now been referred by the Post Office for review to a specialist crime law firm.

The good guys in this are Aria Grace Law which is working as part of a pro bono team (including also Paul Marshall, a barrister at Cornerstone Barristers) on behalf of a number of people appealing their convictions. I bet their computers have a clean bill of health.

 ARTWORKS OF THE WEEK – TRAVERS SMITH

BELLA HALL, SORIN BOGDAN SOFIAN and OSARETIN UGIAGBE

Bella Thorn’s winning work ‘Thorns of Christ’

Notwithstanding the C-Virus restrictions Travers Smith LLP has persevered with its annual CSR Art Programme featuring artwork by students from the University of Westminster and the Royal College of Art (RCA).

And last week they announced the winners from this year’s selection. Admittedly it was not through the usual process of intensive face-to-face discussion by the judges. Instead the panel, consisting of Natalia Grabowska (Assistant Curator, The Serpentine Galleries), Nemo Nonnenmacher (CSR Art Programme alumnus and Associate Director of Unit 1 Gallery) and Alex Deveruex (Artist) had to confer virtually to decide the winning artwork and artists from a selection of 57 shortlisted pieces.

So the winners are Bella Hall, (University of Westminster) who received a prize for her “Untitled Blue” and “Thorns of Christ”, an abstract series of paintings exploring the formal elements of painting along with Osaretin Ugiagbe, (RCA) for his piece “Heads 2018-2019”, which aims to re-address the tradition of portraiture.

In addition Sorin Bogdan Sofian (University of Westminster) was announced as the winner of the popular vote, which was open to everyone who works at Travers Smith, for his series of striking photographs titled “The Last Place on Earth”.

All three winning artists have been awarded £2,000 to support them with their transition towards professional practice.

Staff Involvement

Engagement by the firm’s staff in the exhibited works is crucial to the project’s success. “Sorin’s landscapes are a complete contradiction,” said one staff member. “On first viewing they are beautiful abstracts until you realise what he has photographed is the result of the shocking environmental damage caused by chemicals used in the local mining industry. The surreal images of the submerged church and yellow river are counterpointed by portraits of smiling locals. A really powerful set of thought provoking images that stay with you long after you have seen them.” Meanwhile another added, “I really enjoy the CSR programme. It draws together people from right across the firm and it was really interesting to view lots of different works and shows.  It’s fantastic the firm helps to support emerging artists and it’s a pleasure to walk around the office viewing gallery standard art every day, I never tire of seeing it.”

Sorin Bogdan Sofian‘s ‘The Last Place on Earth

Commenting on this year’s event Travers Smith’s CSR Partner Donald Lowe, said, I am delighted that our judges were able to come together virtually to choose this year’s winners, and many congratulations to all the students that have been awarded a prize. Now in its fifth year, we are extremely proud of our CSR Art Programme and the way in which it emphasises our commitment to CSR from the moment someone enters our offices. As a firm, we remain fully committed to nurturing artistic talent and supporting the participating graduate artists as they transition from student life to professional practice.”

 Rounding up, the judges Natalie Grabowska and Nemo Nonnenmacher praised the initiative saying, “Over the years, through their CSR Art Programme, Travers Smith has manifested its commitment and dedication to contemporary art by focusing on promoting and supporting emerging artists. This programme is even more remarkable this year, when many art organisations and networks are readjusting to the changed reality. We have a huge respect for Travers Smith for striving to go ahead with this programme, as it is a support mechanism for emerging artists evermore needed in these demanding times.”

Osaretin Ugiagbe‘s ‘Heads’

LOCATIONS OF LEGAL LONDON

In the second in an occasional series about key places of legal significance to London Daniel Dodman of Goodman Derrick LLP reflects on Temple Bar.

The Royal Courts of Justice are perhaps one of the most recognisable legal buildings in London.  They are regularly besieged by camera crews who accost the victors and losers of various legal battles and its grand gateway sits prominently in the public perception of the English legal system.  But the immediate surroundings to the Court weren’t always as they are now.

Very close to the entrance to the RCJ sits the location of the original Temple Bar which marked one of the first entrances to the City.  Built in its earliest form in 1351, shortly after the Black Death and housing a prison above it, the gate was further renovated for the coronation of Anne Boleyn. Her daughter, Elizabeth I, passed under it to celebrate the destruction of the Armada. 

Sir Christopher Wren built the final version of the gate in the 1670s and it was regularly used as a place to exhibit the heads of traitors (telescopes could be hired for those wanting to get a better glimpse of the offenders’ remains).  Bizarrely, it is also one of the first examples of flat pack building, having being removed in 1878 to assist with the traffic flow near the Royal Court of Justice.  It was resurrected in an estate in Hertfordshire where it stood for 100 years slowing falling into disrepair. 

 Fortunately in 2004 it was returned to the City newly polished and installed next to St Paul’s at the entrance to Paternoster Square.  It looks so at home there that I wonder how many people getting their Pret sandwiches realise its remarkable history.

Although we will be slimmed down for the rest of the Summer please continue sending in your stories, comments, circulate to your colleagues and, even, register as a follower.

Write to fennell.edward@yahoo.com