Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Friday October 30 2020 Edition 32

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



With the ending of the furlough scheme things are about to get very tight for many of our fellow citizens. But this is just the start. There is going to be a heavy reckoning for the cost of Covid-19 over the winter and tensions will surface which have no easy solution in law.

For example, David Smith, a partner at JMW Solicitors highlights that following an intervention by Robert Buckland, the Lord Chancellor County Court Bailiffs and High Court Sheriffs are declining to enforce warrants and writs of possession. That is entirely understandable and, you might say, compassionate. However there’s a catch. “The problem with the Government’s approach is that it is almost certainly unlawful,” says Smith. “It is not open to Bailiffs or HCEOs to simply decline to enforce warrants and writs, even if the Lord Chancellor asks them to do so. They have a duty to do this. Indeed, there is a power to complain to the County Court, in the County Courts Act, about losses resulting from Bailiffs not enforcing warrants.”

 Mind you, we are now becoming accustomed to this government not being too concerned with the niceties of what the law requires. So maybe anything goes.

The LegalDiarist



– Mishcon de Reya

– Pinsent Masons

– Hodge Jones & Allen

– Kennedys




+ STEVEN HEFFER Collyer Bristow’s Partner and Painter


Mishcon States its Position

As has been widely reported, Mishcon de Reya played a key role in setting the scene for the EHRC investigation into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. The publication of the investigation’s report yesterday could have left no-one in two minds about the culpability of the party. Not surprisingly then the firm was feeling vindicated in its campaign in conjunction with the Jewish Labour Movement.

“Over the past two years we have worked with the JLM and whistleblowers from within the Party,” the firm said in a statement immediately after the EHRC report was published. “We have been repeatedly reminded of their bravery in fighting antisemitism, often against the backdrop of abuse and gaslighting.  That bravery led to powerful submissions being made to the EHRC, which were accepted: the pain of the targeted members has finally been acknowledged.  The EHRC has set out where the Labour Party has fallen short of its legal obligations.  We join our client’s call for the party now to adopt appropriate systems and political and cultural change to ensure the protection and lawful treatment of all its members.”

The Labour Party is now under new management and significant institutional and systemic change can be expected. How far individual members change their attitudes (notably a certain J.Corbyn) clearly remains a different matter.

Vario on the Go

Another sign that the legal profession can continue reinventing itself comes with the news that Pinsent Masons is bringing Vario, its ‘flexible resourcing’ business, in from the cold and bundling it up with a range of other consultancy services to sit alongside its mainstream legal practice.

“For some time now there has been a move away from the idea that the provision of legal services is mainly about ‘black letter’ law,” commented Matthew Kay, the Managing Director of Pinsent Masons Vario “ More and more, we and our competitors are called on to play a central role in responding to broader business issues through the provision of technology, or the delivery of managed legal services. While flexible services have been a game changer in recent years – enabling businesses to dial resource up and down in line with day-to-day needs – this offering alone will not be the only solution required by clients as they grapple with increasingly complex business demands.”

What exactly are these non-black letter law areas of expertise? They include activities as varied as legal technology, diversity and inclusion, project management and the resourcing and management of legal services. So quite a mix.

“Legal services have been transformed in recent years by increasing client demand for a flexible and solutions-based approach to legal and commercial challenges,” said Richard Foley, the firm’s Senior Partner.

So welcome to the new lawyer – fixer-in-chief.

Judicial Review under Threat

Worries are growing that reforms envisaged by the current Independent Review of Administrative Law might result in restrictions being placed on the scope of judicial review. “These reforms appear to be premised on the notion that basic judicial review principles have taken a wrong turn over the last 40 years,” said Alice Hardy (above), Partner and Civil Liberties Solicitor at Hodge Jones & Allen, “Indeed, the period which the review calls into question arguably spans back well over a century. It is not a simple exercise to examine a body of jurisprudence [which is] this large and suggest remedies for those aspects that government bodies find uncomfortable, nor is it one that should be undertaken lightly.”

Hodge Jones & Allen says that it recognises improvements are possible and it would welcome a review of the rules in judicial review proceedings – but not as a means of controlling costs, as appears to be proposed. “There are already sufficient powers available to deal with unmeritorious claims,” the firm points out. “Limitation periods could also be reviewed to ensure individuals are not disproportionately disadvantaged.”

Hardy went on to say, “We see no justification for restricting access to justice still further, still less in such a wholescale, radical way, save for the Government’s evident wish to limit the courts’ ability to reach decisions that are embarrassing or inconvenient. There can be no doubt that to do so would disproportionately affect the vulnerable and disadvantaged. Ultimately, better quality government decision-making; better training, supervision and care would reduce the need to resort to judicial review, without threatening the courts’ practical ability to uphold the rule of law.”

Trust Boris in a self-driven car?

Is the Government’s plan for another ‘world leading’ technological advance going to stall? Now that ‘track and trace’ has been lost somewhere in Manchester (or was it in Liverpool – who knows) autonomous vehicle technology has been touted as the country’s next big spin. How worrying then that international law firm Kennedys has flashed a warning sign that the Government has a number of obstacles to negotiate if it is to avoid skidding off the road.

For Kennedys ‘consumer confidence’ in the technology will be key – and that is not forthcoming yet. In fact, its own research shows that “Public acceptance of widespread autonomous vehicle technology is far from guaranteed and that without it, governments around the world will struggle to implement the technology.”

Equally important though is that the legal framework around self-driving cars will need be significantly upgraded to make it fit for purpose. “The Government’s ambition to place the UK at the forefront of new technologies, and data-driven innovation is clear and commendable,” says  Deborah Newberry, Head of Corporate and Public Affairs at Kennedys, “However, that shift requires a suitable policy framework to achieve those aims and, in particular, address concerns around public safety, where the liability rests when accidents occur and data security. Faced with these challenges, the Government must establish a trusted data framework and listen to the views of end-users in order to realise its vision of technical leadership.”

All of these concerns have now been put to the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles on the Safe Use of Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) as it ponders what should happen next. Probably the best suggestion is ‘Slow Down’ .

Editors Note: Thatcham Research and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) are urging the Government to revise its plans to introduce Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) onto UK roads in early 2021 because it will put road users’ lives at risk.  “The Government should undertake further work with insurers and the automotive industry to ensure road safety is fully considered before introducing Automated Lane Keeping Systems,” it says.


CILEx (The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) has added its voice to the growing protests in the profession at the cuts to legal aid and the consequences which follow.

Responding to the current Criminal Legal Aid Review inquiry CILEx says, “Funding cuts caused by LASPO have not only compromised recruitment by disincentivising talented practitioners from pursuing career paths in legal aid provision but have also undermined retention efforts as underfunding and under resourcing leads to widespread issues such as incessant court backlogs. As a result, working arrangements within the legal aid market have grown increasingly dependent on a limited pool of providers to provide an unrealistic level of output, worsened by new initiatives, such as extended opening hours for the court estate. Without sufficient funding to resolve the root cause of these shortages, solutions such as extended operating hours are simply unsustainable.”

CILEx recommends earlier access to payment for legal aid work to help financially precarious firms, “In order to help safeguard income streams, manage risk and protect the financial longevity of providers in supplying legal aid services.”

CILEx President Craig Tickner, himself a specialist criminal defence advocate, says. The precarious financial stability of legal aid firms pre-dates the current Covid crisis. For as long as we can remember we have been calling for proper funding and additional resources, engaging with review processes such as the Criminal Legal Aid Review. With Covid-19 now hovering over remaining providers like the grim reaper, action is needed now. Any delay will be too late.”



As the light at the end of Covid tunnel seems to recede by the day there seems to be an even greater sense of urgency about the need for ‘building back better’. After all, from all this pain surely some gain must be derived?

Leading legal business consultancy JOMATI has just published a guide for lawyers about how it might be achieved using the structure of ESG (environmental, social and governance)as a guide. As Jomati’s Tony Williams explains, “A common theme to emerge from this economic and social catastrophe is that the world economy that arises from the shadow of COVID-19 should be ’better’ than what has gone before. Helpfully, ideas about what might constitute ‘better’ are now coalescing around the existing concept of environmental, social and governance (ESG). This broad concept offers a useful framework, that organisations can draw on to enact positive change across a broad range of societal issues. Besides helping organisations respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19, the ESG framework can also help them respond to other societal problems, including the climate emergency and endemic racial discrimination, starkly highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement. Organisations who wish to commit to building a ‘better’ future therefore benefit from having an organisational ‘shorthand’, which allows them to signal to the wider world their intention to do so.”

Williams goes on to argue that in the light of ESG’s growing global importance, “We believe that lawyers and law firms should familiarise themselves with the concept as a matter of urgency.” As he points out, law firms should expect to see far greater scrutiny of their own ESG-related behaviours during tenders, particularly in relation to employee diversity. But, he says, the legal sector already has a ‘positive story to tell’ in relation to ESG because ‘Many components of the ESG concept are based on statutory rules. This means that many lawyers are already helping their clients achieve their ESG objectives, simply by doing their jobs.’

In fact, due to the way diverse ESG concepts are already ‘given force by quasi-legal means, such as industry codes of conduct, reporting obligations and international agreements’ the provision of advice to clients on how to comply with such rules could become a growth market for law firms. “This type of service line expansion illustrates how, for law firms, performing a social good and generating new sources of revenue do not need to be mutually exclusive activities,” says the report.

This thorough and stimulating publication provides both food for thought and plenty of practical examples based on deep sectoral knowledge. Definitely worth investigating.

NOTE: Reimagining your business in a post COVID-19 world: rebuild better is the 20th in a series of reports on key issues facing the legal sector published by Jomati Consultants LLP.

For more visit http://www.jomati.com or email Tony Williams directly (tony.williams@jomati.com) to receive a copy of this or any other report.



Another ground-breaking female lawyer featured in the series of video interviews by ‘First 100 years’, Funke Abimbola MBE is the former UK General Counsel of Roche, the world’s largest biotech company, who has used her voice to champion equality and diversity in the legal profession. In June 2017, Funke was awarded an MBE for services to diversity in the legal profession and to young people.

Length 6’40” Available at

For more go to www.first100years.org.uk



In the first in an occasional series we look at the artistic career of STEVEN HEFFER, partner and Head of Media and Privacy at Collyer Bristow who qualified at the Slade and is still deeply an artist at heart

One of Steven Heffer’s characteristic coastal works

“The year I was born the Arts Council held an exhibition of Abstract Impressionism which brought together artists whose work represented both Abstraction and a painterly interest in colour, touch, light and space,” explains Steven Heffer who manages to combine two very busy careers as both a leading lawyer and an exhibiting artist.
“Interestingly, that seems to  sum up the kind of work I produce. In 2016 I collaborated with well-known art critic and writer Edward Lucie – Smith on an exhibition and book entitled Steven Heffer, A Very British Modernist. I had never thought of my work in that way, but Edward L-S described me as a modernist, which I think is right. I have a particular interest in mid 20th `century British painting. It was that interest which led me to the Slade School of Fine Art, the work of William Coldstream and Euan Uglow in particular. My training there in the early 90’s was largely in the life room and based around rigorous observational painting.
“I grew up in Greenwich, South London and for many years painted the river Thames and the industrial buildings along its banks. This led to my work becoming increasingly abstract, but it still based upon landscape. My first job was in silk screen printing. I could easily have pursued a creative career, but a junior position in a law firm led me to train and qualify as a solicitor and advocate. I went back to art studies after qualifying.
“I still concentrate on landscape , sometimes urban, sometimes the countryside, often around East Sussex where my studio is. Also pure abstract compositions although as Edward L-S commented these often have ‘representational bones’.
“I joined Collyer Bristow as a partner in 2003, and its long connection with the art world and [the firm’s in-house] art gallery was one the factors involved in that decision. I later became the lead partner in the gallery, working with its curator Rosalind Davis in connection with exhibitions and prizes. We have run a very popular art prize for art school graduates in recent years. I have exhibited at the gallery but it focuses on contemporary art often from emerging artists.”

Edward Lucie Smith on Steven Heffer’s work

When one looks at Steven Heffer’s work, one simultaneously thinks oftwo very different, and apparently opposed things. The first is that he is avery British artist. What he does is directly relatable to artists who formpart of the British historical tradition — in particular, to the British artisticrelationship to landscape. Though he paints in a different medium,comparisons are possible with the great watercolourist, John SellCotman. Even, on occasion, one is made to think of the sketches thatJ.M.W. Turner described as ‘Colour Beginnings’. There is a whole trove ofthese radical experiments in the collection of the Tate.Heffer is also indubitably a Modernist — a painter who is directly relatedto the main current of the Modern Movement, now being challenged bymany artists who would prefer to wash their hands of radical Modernistways of seeing, or in fact re-seeing, the world, and who now are happy tobe labelled Post Modernists. In this sense Heffer can be regarded as adirect descendant of John Piper, who also managed to keep a foot inboth traditions.

What Heffer does seem to romanticise is not what he finds on land, but inthe sea. His studio is near Eastbourne, and among his most frequentsubjects are the white cliffs of the South Downs, plunging directly intothe English Channel. Where Turner is a painter of storms, Heffer prefersthe sea when it is at it calmest, serving as a mirror to the chalk cliffs thatborder it. By inviting, or even forcing,the spectator to `see the world differently’, Heffer very much belongs to the High Modernist tradition.”

Edward Lucie-Smith

Art Historian, Author & Critic

For more go to: https://www.stevenhefferart.com/

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And Happy Halloween!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

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Friday October 23 2020 Edition 31

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


Those with Disabilities – The overlooked minority

‘If you can measure it, then you can manage it’. That’s an old adage but it is being observed by an increasing number of law firms in relation to the recruitment, retention and the pay of their lawyers by ethnicity and gender.

But one of the most significant minority groups – those with disabilities – has been consistently overlooked in these exercises. So it is to Allen & Overy’s credit that it is now, for the first time, including disability as one of the characteristics it will track in relation to pay.

This comes at a time when, as reported in the Legal Diary below, Addleshaw Goddard has become the first law firm to sign up to the BBC’s 50:50 The Equality Project initiative to track the representation of minorities as the spokespeople for their organisations. The firm has elected to focus initially only on the gender balance in their figures. There is scope to extend to other groups. It will be good to see when those with disabilities are also taken into account at Addleshaw Goddard and every other ‘leading’ law firm.

The Legaldiarist


+ The Legal Diary of the Week

– Quentin Hunt

– Addleshaw Goddard and the 50:50 project

– SRA vs. SDT

– Banco Central de Venezuela

– nexaGC

+ Legal Comment of the Week – Rewriting Human Rights

+ Legal Analysis of the Week – Potential implications of Brexit

+ Snapshots of Legal London


Forged in Fame

Quentin Hunt, a barrister of 2 Bedford Chambers, enjoyed his two minutes of fame in this week’s Channel 4 documentary about the controversial background to the jaw-dropping interview by Martin Bashir with Princess Diana back in the 1990s. The suggestion was that forged documents procured by Bashir had been instrumental in persuading the princess to take part in the programme. Hunt pointed out that this might constitute a criminal offence – still prosecutable even after all these years.

Mind you, in the unlikely event that the CPS does decide to follow up on this possibility there could be no better person to defend Bashir than Hunt himself. After all, as is pointed out on his website, “His easy manner and heavyweight reputation has attracted numerous high profile clients including International and Premiership footballers, Grammy award winning pop stars, World Champion Sportsmen, Members of Parliament and numerous business leaders. Such clients have trusted Quentin to secure the best possible outcome for them in their cases.” A celebrity journalist would easily fit into that company. Mind you, Bashir’s latest media role has been head of religious affairs at the BBC. Maybe better to start praying now.

First Equal

The last thing that highly competitive law firms want is to be equal with others. They want to be the ‘best’ or the ‘top’ or the ‘leading’. Well Addleshaw Goddard can now claim to be the ‘first’ law firm to have signed up to the BBC’s 50:50 The Equality Project. According to the firm this means that it will initially “Commit to achieving a 50:50 gender balance in spokespeople representing the firm in the media, press releases and awards, using the BBC’s detailed methodology and best practice developed to fully and better represent their audiences.

Although other ‘minorities’ will be targeted in the future the focus for the time being is exclusively on the male/female ratio. “Measuring makes a difference – going forward we will have the data which makes us accountable for our progress,” saidJustine Delroy, co-head of Addleshaw Goddard’s Gender Diversity & Inclusion Group. “We need to reflect in our external communications the wealth of credible female voices, and ensure that everyone has the best possible chance to get their voice heard”

The Legal Diary will be counting.

Visit 50:50 The Equality Project website for more information.

Irregular Proceedings

Oh dear! What on earth is going on at the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)? In what must be one of the most humiliating judgements in recent history against any UK regulatory body the SRA has been condemned by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal for falling “demonstrably below” the standard required of the profession following an  “improperly brought and pursuedcase against lawyer Jamil Ahmud, a partner with Bloomsbury Law.

In what was clearly a shambolic (and conceivably vindictive) attempt to pursue an inaccurate complaint of dishonesty made by a costs draftsman against Mr Ahmud the SRA made the almost incomprehensible error of not speaking to the only key witness. When, very belatedly, the SRA’s solicitors, Capsticks, eventually contacted that witness – a full four years after beginning the investigation – his evidence contradicted their allegation.

But that was not the only bizarre aspect of the case. It seems that the SRA’s own officers had previously investigated the matter and concluded that there was no merit in it – and actually closed the investigation! Despite this it was then re-opened in breach of the SRA’s own Reconsideration Policy. The Tribunal described this conduct as ‘lamentable’.  Indeed the SDT found that the proceedings “should not have been brought in the first place” and that “all matters were infected from the outset with a regrettable injudicious and peremptory lack of professional assiduousness [on the part of the SRA].”

Mr Ahmud was defended in this case by his own firm Bloomsbury Law, a specialist litigation and property practice and the upshot is that the SRA now has to pay Mr Ahmud’s defence costs amounting to £215,000. Should the parties not be able to agree this figure there will be a detailed costs assessment. In any case it is likely to be an unprecedented sum – the largest previous costs awarded against the SRA being £62,000.

“It is now clear that these baseless allegations should never have been pursued against me,” said Jamil Ahmud. “Substantial costs have been incurred in defending these proceedings only for them to be withdrawn at the eleventh hour. The SRA’s ‘lack of diligence and transparency’ in this case has wasted the time of both the SDT and myself, as well as squandering the profession’s money.”

The only consolation in this entire sorry story is that the SRA did not get away with it. But its reputation is clearly tarnished.


The rule of law is supposed to be about observing the law even when you don’t like what it says (as we are now realising with the Covid Rules). So, whatever one’s view of the Maduro regime in Venezuela, one cannot support the representatives of Mr Guaidó (Maduro’s rival) in failing to comply with the English Court of Appeal’s Order requiring them to pay the costs of the Banco Central de Venezuela in its successful appeal in the ‘Venezeulan gold’ case (already covered on several occasions in this blog).

The Court Order required that Mr Guaidó’s ‘Ad Hoc Board’ of the BCV make an interim payment of £400,000 to the BCV’s client account with their solicitors, Zaiwalla & Co, by the 20th October 2020. The Guaidó Board has failed to do so, placing it in breach of the English Court of Appeal Order.

It is already on record – or at least the record of John Bolton in his recent book In The Room Where it Happened – that Jeremy Hunt when Foreign Minister had agreed that Britain would co-operate in ‘freezing Venezuelan gold deposits in the Bank of England, so the regime could not sell the gold to keep itself going’. But when that policy back-fired legally – as it has done – then surely the Government should be encouraging its friends in Venezuela to comply with UK law. But then, as we know, the Government hates ‘lefty lawyers’ especially in its own courts.

“Where parties knowingly fail to comply with a Court Order while having the means to do so, the court is able to impose sanctions – including potentially striking out their case,” said Sarosh Zaiwalla. The stakes, it seems, in this game of risk are starting to get higher.

Speaking Generally

Is there life after retirement for General Counsel? We know that growing numbers of lawyers are leaving big and small firms alike to opt for a more flexible future. But now nexa law – a challenger ‘distributed’ law firm – is offering the same option to GCs via its  nexaGC platform which matches up former in-house counsel to growing businesses and to the legal teams of larger corporates. It now has nearly 20 former in-house business lawyers on its books including the former data protection and GDPR lead from BT Group Plc, the former GC of Etihad Airlines and another from US pharmaceutical giant Teva Pharmaceuticals. 

“Former in-house lawyers make ideal partners for growing businesses because they have been on the ‘buy’ rather than the ‘sell’ side of legal services and know exactly what’s needed and what’s not,” comments Nigel Clark, nexa’s Sales and Recruitment Director. “We’ve seen a lot of traction for this model amongst former GCs who want a bit more flexibility and perhaps a desire to work with a handful of clients in a really strategic way. Our model aims to offer lawyers the best choice, the best commercial arrangements and the best culture.”

Assuming any of us actually has a future post-Covid, it all sounds rather seductive.

For more information about nexaGC visit https://www.nexa.law/client-services/nexagc/



With politicians aiming to ‘take back control’ of the courts Priti Patel seems to be intent on curbing the use of human rights laws to block deportations through her Fair Borders Bill. But will it make any difference? Barrister Ben Keith is not so sure.

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The Home Secretary has again been raising legal eyebrows with her rhetoric on immigration and human rights. She told the Conservative Party Conference that the new Fair Borders Bill would limit the power of judges to prevent removal from the United Kingdom because of fear of a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. She cited Theresa May attempt to codify Article 8 (Right to a Private and Family Life) of the convention using very strict criteria. There has been some powerful language around the topic but the issues of human rights, asylum and immigration are conflated to try and attack the system.

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” says Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.  There are no caveats to the statement and no proportionality consideration. The right to be treated like a human extends to everyone, even those who have committed the most horrific of crimes. The language from the government that Article 3 had been interpreted too broadly and criteria would be implemented to help judges determine the meaning of inhumane and degrading.

So, it is a ‘brave’ government which tries to limit the power of the courts to enforce those rights. The narrative around the story is that Foreign Criminals are using Article 3 to prevent their deportation from the UK. The plan is to give judges a set of criteria with which to analyse whether someone might be subject to inhumane and degrading treatment if deported. This, in my experience, isn’t actually a problem. To win an Article 3 case is extremely difficult. The person must be at serious threat to life or violence. In a case involving someone with a medical condition they must be almost on death’s door. Our courts and the ECHR only find breaches of Article 3 in exceptional circumstances. In the first 6 months of 2020 the ECHR granted only two injunctions against the UK in American Extradition Cases (one was my client).  Examples of Article 3 inhumane conditions are overcrowded prisons where inmates have to share beds and are locked up for 23 hours a day, prisons where beatings and sexual assault enforce discipline – horrendous places with dreadful conditions. Changing the law will make no difference in respect of Article 3 and only serve to muddy the waters. 

Ben Keith is a barrister at 5 St Andrew’s Hill

Legal Analysis of the Week

Potential implications of Brexit

With Brexit negotiations now in the balance Robert Lyons of Excello Law examines what might happen next.

2020 has been an extraordinarily difficult trading year globally and 2021 is likely to be even more challenging.

Irrespective of whether a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is negotiated with the EU,  businesses involved in cross border trade between the UK and EU will need to identify and cost new non-tariff barriers, get to grips with non-tariff quotas, work through any Brexit implications for the current and future work force and become familiar with the latest GB-EU border manual

(SEE https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/925140/BordersOpModel.pdf.)

If no FTA is agreed with the EU, businesses will also need to identify whether their businesses will be subject to import/export tariffs, cost any such tariffs and then assess the impact of these tariffs on their margins and working capital facilities.

The nationality of the goods being sold may also need to be identified.  Currently, any goods produced in the UK will be deemed to have EU nationality but, post-Brexit, the relevant nationality will be the UK.  There are many sectors with complex pan-EU supply chains e.g. the motor and aerospace industries where certain goods comprise numerous components manufactured throughout the EU. Ascertaining the rules of origin will be an additional new cost for many UK companies.

If no FTA is agreed, then many EU and UK supply chains may need to be revisited to ensure that the final product satisfies either the EU or UK nationality tests under the relevant rules of origin.  If the UK element is large enough to result in a mainly EU product no longer satisfying the EU nationality test, it may be that the EU manufactures will seek to source the UK elements from elsewhere within the EU.  It will be imperative for these businesses to ascertain whether these rules of origin will be a threat or an opportunity post Brexit. 

Robert Lyons is a specialist business and corporate lawyer at Excello Law


Snapshots of Legal London: Halloween Edition

In our occasional series of images and accounts of ‘Legal London’ Daniel Dodman takes a Halloween look at Smithfield.

Smithfield Market, historically a field of gore

As Autumn begins to settle in, the weather turns colder and the clocks go back it can only mean the impending count down to Christmas that begins with Halloween.  Anyone short of inspiration for ghoulish ideas only needs to turn their attention to the City and, specifically Smithfields for decades of blood and violence. 

Originally set outside the City walls (in the Smooth Fields), it quickly became the meat market feeding the whole of London.  It was also a large space that was used for jousting tournaments and public gatherings, the most famous of which are now its infamous executions.

These would be attended by thousands of people who would bring the entire family, get some fast food and let the festivities commence.  But no one should be in any doubt about the way the day would end up.  More common executions by hanging were run of the mill but a number of religious dissenters were burnt at the stake in the same location (including James Bainham who was a lawyer and a member of the Middle Temple at the time). 

Even worse was the infamous punishment of being hanged drawn and quartered.  A statutory penalty for high treason since 1351, the details make for pretty gory reading.  First you would be tied to the back of a horse and dragged through the street (drawn) before being hung until almost dead and then having your entrails removed along with your heart.  The final act was to quarter the body into four pieces.  One of the great quotes about the whole process comes from Samuel Pepys:

“I went to see Major General Harrison Hung Drawn and Quartered.  He was looking as cheerful as any man could in that condition.”

Thankfully, there are no executions in Smithfield today (although plenty of blood and guts still to be found in the meat market).  For those that want to get a sense of some of the misery the location has seen, a short trip to St Bart’s the Great is worth a visit.  As London’s oldest parish church it is quite stunning but also holds Damien Hirst’s “exquisite pain”, a statue of Saint Bartholomew holding his own skin post flaying.  Inspiration enough for Halloween! 

The Flayed St. Bartholomew

Daniel Dodman is a Partner at Goodman Derrick LLP, the London law firm. See more blogs at https://dandodmanhistory.com

And finally…

following on from the above our best wishes go to BDB Pitmans which has just moved from Westminster to Bartholomew Close, immediately around the corner from Smithfield and the place of execution. That should set the tone for the office!

Please keep sending in your news, comments and insights to


and do pass on this edition to your colleagues and friends.

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Friday October 16 2020 Edition 29

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


Law firms taking the right route to Shanghai?

Earlier this week the Head of MI5 described the security threat from Russia as ‘stormy weather’ but the challenge posed by China, by contrast, was ‘climate change’. This was reflected, meanwhile, in the legal sector by the report that China is offering substantial cash handouts to law firms to persuade them to establish new offices in Shanghai’s special free trade zone.

Firms which are tempted by the offer face an existential dilemma. Will the money come with strings at some point further down the line? Will they find themselves in hock to the Chinese authorities?

Oddly enough this parallels the attempt by the top six football clubs to bribe lower league teams to join a newly formed division. It will give them more money but at the cost of handing over key decision-making to the likes of US-owned Manchester United and Liverpool.

‘Beware Greeks bearing gifts’ was the old adage. Just substitute ‘Americans’ or ‘Chinese’ according to your business sector.

The Legaldiarist


In this week’s edition, stories about

– Reed Smith

– Travers Smith

– Axiom Stone

– ‘Practical Law’

– Learmond-Criqui Sokel

– Legal Action Worldwide’

– Del Canto Chambers

– Block 336


Reed Smith’s Innovation Structure

Like any progressive industry the law business keeps on looking for new ways to develop its expertise and deliver its product. Unless innovation is threaded through a firm it’s not able to keep up.

Reed Smith has now institutionalised this through the launch of a new corporate programme under the titleInnovation Seasons’. Operating across the firm worldwide the programme adopts a theme for each quarter as a ‘grounding to its lawyers, business services staff and clients across the globe in one specific innovation theme’.

Interestingly Reed Smith is drawing on some of the established models for innovation in tech businesses such as f’ive-day design sprints’ and ‘ideas campaigns’. So, maybe unsurprisingly, the launch season commenced earlier his month with a focus on the use of data in legal services.

“Each season will consist of presentations and discussion forums involving legal and other industry professionals as well as technology demonstrations, explainer videos and case studies of successful innovation projects at the firm,” says the firm. “At the end of each season, the ‘innovation engagement manager’ will be supporting people internally with formulating ideas and converting them into formal innovation projects.”

Occupying that role is Adam Curphey. “We’re delighted to be launching Innovation Seasons globally across the firm,” he says. “Having a three month period dedicated to a specific theme will  provide a focus within the firm and ensure that the collective knowledge and idea creation can be channelled into tangible outputs.”

Open to Offers

Continuing on the theme of innovation you have to give credit to

Travers Smith LLP for the launch this week of Etatonna, an innovative contract labelling tool, which has been developed in-house by the firm’s Legal Technology team. This is now an open source code, meaning that others can use it within their businesses and benefit from being able to efficiently label legal documents to train AI models.

“There is no doubt that using artificial intelligence to unlock insights from historic contracts is of immense value to organisations all over the world,” said Travers Smith’s Head of Legal Technology, Shawn Curran. “The main issue at the moment is the quality of the AI. Therefore, model training needs to be optimised and companies shouldn’t be overlapping by labelling the same or similar clauses. Law firms need to combine expertise in the most efficient and cost-effective way for our clients. Our hope is that by open sourcing Etatonna we can inspire this collaboration.”

Interesting idea.


Reed Smith’s Innovation Structure

Like any progressive industry the law business keeps on looking for new ways to develop its expertise and deliver its product. Unless innovation is threaded through a firm it’s not able to keep up.

Reed Smith has now institutionalised this through the launch of a new corporate programme under the titleInnovation Seasons’. Operating across the firm worldwide the programme adopts a theme for each quarter as a ‘grounding to its lawyers, business services staff and clients across the globe in one specific innovation theme’.

Interestingly Reed Smith is drawing on some of the established models for innovation in tech businesses such as f’ive-day design sprints’ and ‘ideas campaigns’. So, maybe unsurprisingly, the launch season commenced earlier his month with a focus on the use of data in legal services.

“Each season will consist of presentations and discussion forums involving legal and other industry professionals as well as technology demonstrations, explainer videos and case studies of successful innovation projects at the firm,” says the firm. “At the end of each season, the ‘innovation engagement manager’ will be supporting people internally with formulating ideas and converting them into formal innovation projects.”

Occupying that role is Adam Curphey. “We’re delighted to be launching Innovation Seasons globally across the firm,” he says. “Having a three month period dedicated to a specific theme will  provide a focus within the firm and ensure that the collective knowledge and idea creation can be channelled into tangible outputs.”

Open to Offers

Continuing on the theme of innovation you have to give credit to

Travers Smith LLP for the launch this week of Etatonna, an innovative contract labelling tool, which has been developed in-house by the firm’s Legal Technology team. This is now an open source code, meaning that others can use it within their businesses and benefit from being able to efficiently label legal documents to train AI models.

“There is no doubt that using artificial intelligence to unlock insights from historic contracts is of immense value to organisations all over the world,” said Travers Smith’s Head of Legal Technology, Shawn Curran. “The main issue at the moment is the quality of the AI. Therefore, model training needs to be optimised and companies shouldn’t be overlapping by labelling the same or similar clauses. Law firms need to combine expertise in the most efficient and cost-effective way for our clients. Our hope is that by open sourcing Etatonna we can inspire this collaboration.”

Interesting idea.

Entertaining Pensions’ Law

Rosalind Connor of Arc Pensions Law

We try to be topical in the Legal Diary and round about now (Friday morning) Rosalind Connor, managing partner with Arc Pensions Law will be speaking as part of a debate about proposed changes to pension tax at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association’s Annual Conference 2020

The motion under discussion is ‘This house believes pensions tax relief should continue across all earning categories’ and the other contributors include François Barker, Head of Pensions at Eversheds Sutherland; Paul Brice, Head of Pensions Advisory at Grant Thornton; and Philip Brown, Director of Policy and External Affairs at The People’s Pension.

The speakers will be debating for what they call ‘entertainment purposes’ – although maybe it is only lawyers who would describe anything connected with pensions as entertaining. They also make clear that anything they say cannot be taken down and used against them as evidence of their own opinions. Very wise.

For more information on this event,click here.

Where’s your faith?

Also about now (publication time, Friday morning)  the Supreme Court is handing down its judgment on the role of faith-based charities in the case of the Agudas Israel Housing Association (AIHA)  This focuses on the legality of AIHA’s policy of offering their housing exclusively to the Orthodox Jewish Community whom it was set up to serve.

“Up until this point, the Courts have ruled that AIHA’s policy is legal as the organisation had not yet met all the needs of the many Orthodox Jews in Hackney whom AIHA cannot accommodate and who still suffer disadvantage,” said a spokesperson for the charity. “It has also been noted that the allocation of properties to non-members of the Orthodox Jewish community would fundamentally undermine AIHA’s charitable objectives. Previous judgments have also noted that anti-Semitism was at an unacceptable level making it more difficult for Orthodox Jews to find housing.”

No doubt representatives from all faiths -and maybe none – will be looking on with interest.

Jewish Legacy welcomes Axiom Stone  

Echoing the story above Axiom Stone Solicitors has been appointed to the Approved Panel of solicitors for Jewish Legacy, the umbrella organisation for more than 40 Jewish charities. “Having personally been very active in the Jewish charity world for many years, I am delighted with this appointment which gives Axiom Stone the opportunity to make its mark in the Jewish charitable world.” said Jonathan Metliss, Axiom Stone’s Chairman. Meanwhile Vassos Vassou, Head of Axiom Stone’s Private Client department, added that “We will be doing our utmost to assist Jewish legacy with activities in relation to the subject of charitable giving.”

The firm emphasises, however, that its scope and relationships with the wider community are very diverse. Last year, for example, it sponsored the Diversity Award in the Westminster Business Council’s Award Event in London. As it comments itself, the firm prides itself as ‘a racially-diverse practice and this is yet another example of this policy.’

Divergence Tracker’ Helps Lawyers Keep Up 

With those Brexit negotiations back on track (well, sort of) Thomson Reuters is launching a new series of enhancements for its coverage of Brexit, European Union and EU member states in its publication ‘Practical Law’. This ‘Divergence Tracker’ as it is being called will enable users to keep up-to-date with the new EU and country-specific legislative landscape.

“The effects of Brexit continue to impact many areas of law. Understanding prevailing EU regulation will be critical for many businesses and clients as the UK exits the transition period,” said Lucinda Case, head of Legal Professionals Europe at Thomson Reuters. “Legal professionals need to be certain they are advising clients or their business appropriately on the far-reaching changes that are about to affect cross-border operations and impact many aspects of business, finance and the law across Europe.”

A special team of lawyer-editors, from across five European countries, along with other lawyers and law firms is being convened to undertake the work. They will also be covering immediate topical issues such as the holding of board and shareholder meetings as a result of the pandemic. (Given the rapidity of change one wonders how they can keep up!).

Feeling Sick about 5G?

You think 5G is safe? Then be aware that not everyone agrees with you.

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, a partner in north London firm  Learmond Criqui Sokel  has become involved in challenging the Government over its 5G strategy which effectively dispenses with the need for planning applications before the erection of mobile phone masts and cell towers.

Ms. Learmond-Criqui is now the legal advisor to the application for judicial review directed at the Secretary of State for Housing Communities & Local Government (DHCLG) and the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DDCMS) for the way they adopted the policy.

 “We are campaigning for a rational review of the Government’s process in coming to this irrational decision to allow mobile phone companies to erect 5G masts, antennae and cell towers anywhere, anytime, without even having to apply for planning permission,” she says.  

 “It is clear that the consultation process has been completely undermined: the Government has now admitted that the scientific evidence about adverse health concerns submitted by these campaigners was never presented to the Ministers making the decision.  When questions about risk to public health have been raised, it is simply not right for civil servants to take it upon themselves to withhold vital scientific and other evidence.”

So once again the tricky relationship between scientific experts, civil servants and politicians is being put under scrutiny. And as science and technology become increasingly ‘political’ it is maybe time to find a new way of dealing with these decisions.

Contesting Slavery in Lebanon

A debate is developing about the legitimacy of using the term modern slavery but certainly the word ‘slavery’ – whether modern or classic – seems appropriate in the case being brought currently by the organisation Legal Action Worldwide (LAW) before the First Investigative Judge in Lebanon regarding a woman named Meseret, an Ethiopian migrant domestic worker.

LAW argues that Meseret was subjected to slavery, slave trading, forced labour, gender and racial discrimination, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The first defendant is her former employer (kafeel) and the second defendant is the individual who recruited her.

Kafala is widely used in the Middle East for the employment of domestic servants who frequently end up, in effect, as the slaves of their employers. Meseret, forexample, was held captive in her kafeel’s apartment for more than seven years – she was not paid; subjected to physical and verbal abuse and allowed no contact with her family.

Meseret, unusually, had the chance to escape back to Ethiopia but Legal Action Worldwide, wants to make her case a starting point for disgracing and displacing Kafala throughout the Middle East.“Meseret, has had incredible strength in coming forward,” says Antonia Mulvey, LAW’s Executive Director. “We believe that this case could contribute towards ending the ‘kafala system’ within Lebanon and the systematic abuse and exploitation of female domestic migrant workers.”

There are more than 250,000 domestic migrant workers, mainly female, in Lebanon.” 

For more on LAW go to www.legalactionworldwide.org




In what might be seen as a ground-breaking move Del Canto Chambers has appointed Mrs Maryam Jassim Al Bader to head up its Doha office. “Mrs Al Bader’s joining is a huge asset to Chambers,“ says Leon Fernando Del Canto, head of Del Canto. “She will play a big role in the Turnkey Project Management service we offer our clients, which allows UK businesses to benefit from local knowledge and expertise when setting up an enterprise.”

Mrs Al Bader is believed to be the first female Qatari lawyer to be working with a London Chambers and has impressively cosmopolitan credentials to match the role. With a law degree from the University of Wales Mrs Al Bader went on to gain a Masters in law at  Boston College before working in-house with one of Qatar’s biggest organisations. Subsequently she worked with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for almost and decade.

In a post-Brexit world Qatar is seen as, potentially, a major investor in the UK with a suggestion of billions likely to be poured into real estate and infrastructure in this country. And there could also be investment in the other direction as Qatar starts to flex its regional economic muscle.

The post-Brexit world, however, is also a post-Covid world so nothing is guaranteed. Nonetheless Mrs Al Bader is optimistic. “I look forward to playing an important role in helping encourage foreign investment, which forms part of the UK’s plan to support Qatar in their ambition to become the Middle East’s global hub for banking and finance,” she says.


Lawyers talk art (and vice versa)

For anyone interested in art and the law we cannot recommend too highly Block 336’s Artists’ Legal Rights Sessions, an excellent trio of recordings of discussions between lawyers and artists, Chaired by Jon Sharples, a consultant with Simmons & Simmons. and featuring distinguished lawyers such as Dr. Eleonora Rosati – known as the ‘Queen of online IP law’ and Associate Professor in Intellectual Property Law at Stockholm University, Of Counsel at Bird & Bird and an Editor of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice – they are both intellectually stimulating regarding the law and artistically enlightening. Definitely worth taking time to hear.

Session 1: COVID-19 Special

Please click here to view the recording. 

Session 2: Copyright: Challenging Categories

Please click here to view the recording.

Session 3: Copyright: Infringement

Please click here to view the recording.

For more on BLOCK 336 go to https://www.artland.com/galleries/block-336?tab=exhibitions

Please send your news, views and stories for next week to


Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Friday October 9 2020 Edition 29

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


For once, I am happy to surrender this slot to the devastating observations by Amanda Pinto QC, Chair of the Bar, following the Prime Minister’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference. She comments:

It is shocking and troubling that our own Prime Minister condones and extends attempts to politicise and attack lawyers for simply doing their job in the public interest. Lawyers – including those employed by the Government itself – are absolutely vital to the running of our grossly under-funded criminal justice system. Their professional duty is to their client and to the court, and not to play political games. 

The proper application of the laws of this country is fundamental to the justice system and it is a lawyer’s task to set out the proper arguments to enable that to happen. Even the Home Secretary does not suggest that lawyers are hamstringing the criminal justice system.”

The incongruity of the country’s leading law-maker denouncing the rule of law and those who apply it is hard to fathom. But, I suppose, that merely reflects the very peculiar times in which we live.

The Legaldiarist

In this edition








SIGN UP TODAY, CYCLE ON MONDAY to raise funds to fight breast cancer

On this coming Monday 12 October, barristers and solicitors from across the UK will take to the saddle for the annual charity cycle race, Tour de Law, to raise vital funds for Breast Cancer Now’s world-class research and life-changing care.

So today is your last chance to sign up!

Teams, consisting of up to 10 cyclists, will set off at 6am on Monday (12 October) and race to clock up as many kilometres as they can over the week, ahead of the challenge closing at 6pm on Sunday (18 October) in a bid to beat the competition and be crowned Tour de Law Champions of 2020.

Your miles can be clocked up on road bikes, static bikes at home or in the gym, or even on Santander Cycles. Teams’ distance and fundraising progress will be tracked through Strava, which is linked to and will share updates on each team’s JustGiving page.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, who took part in Tour de Law in 2019 and is a participant this year, commented:. “We took part in Tour de Law for the first time last year. It was a really fun event and created a great buzz. It got pretty competitive at times as different practice groups tried to better each other’s distances and we all tried to knock rival firms off of the top spot! I strongly urge others to take part and join in the fun while raising funds for a great cause!”

Since its inception in 2012, over £600,000 for Breast Cancer Now.

To participate in this fantastic event register your interest to join other legal professionals in taking on the Tour de Law challenge now at tourdelaw.breastcancernow.org.

For further information, please contact Rachel Finch, Community Fundraising Manager, at Breast Cancer Now on rachel.finch@breastcancernow.org or 020 7749 0892.  


Amy Shaffron of JMW Solicitors

In these tough times the country is prepared to forgive the Government some mistaken judgements made in the heat of the crisis. But our patience is being stretched almost to breaking point in relation to the manifest vulnerability to fraud of the ‘Bounce Back’ loan scheme. And threats of prosecution won’t cut much ice in the cold hearts of the criminal.

 “The mistake the government made was not to put in place measures from the outset to prevent the scheme being exploited by fraudsters,” says  Amy Shaffron, senior associate at JMW Solicitors. “Their rush to launch the scheme means they have missed the opportunity to prevent fraud given the lack of eligibility requirements and evidence to get a loan. This has left it wide open for criminal organisations to take advantage of it.

 “It is likely that we will see the Government prosecuting a few cases as test cases but it will achieve little more than good optics so that they can be seen to be taking actions against fraudsters. The reality is there is very little to gain from a prosecution and especially for the tax payer. The average cost of a fraud prosecution of this type is around £40,000 plus the costs the defendant will seek in legal aid which will far exceed the amount defrauded in the first place.”


Laurence Harris – as cool as it comes

Very unusually for a solicitor Laurence Harris, a lawyer with Cooley, has been appointed as a Recorder to sit on criminal cases in the Crown Courts. “Pro bono work and public service has always been important to me and I have been involved in it for some time,” he says. “Applying to become a Recorder was a natural extension of that and I am honoured to be appointed. It was a very attractive position as I thought it would be a challenging role where my skillset could add value, whilst enabling me to continue my daily responsibilities as partner at Cooley.”

Harris adds this responsibility to his role as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Access to Justice Foundation which he assumed as successor to Lord Goldsmith QC. back in the Summer. At that time he said “I am honoured and delighted to be succeeding Peter Goldsmith as chairman of the Foundation. He will be a very difficult act to follow; but at this critical time for the advice sector, I am hugely excited to be able to help lead the Foundation in its work, which, in these uncertain times, is more important than ever”.

In his Cooley capacity Harris is vice chair of the firm’s global litigation department. He has practiced in commercial litigation all his career and advises Governments, large corporates and high net worth individuals in complex commercial disputes. So he is a man of many parts!


The ‘Next 100 years’ project is surveying how female lawyers have been impacted by the past seven months of lockdown, lock-up and log-off . See below their invitation to take part – but you ned to respond by Monday evening.

Take the survey
⏱️ Deadline: midnight Monday 12 October
Why are we conducting this profession-wide survey?
  This check-in survey, which follows our first survey in May (taken by 870 women), will help us to understand what problems women in law are facing in these changing times. Your input will help us figure out how we can best protect the hard-won progress women have made in the profession and continue fighting for an equal future.


Paul Behoney – Ten years to settle disputes arising from Covid?

New recruit to Signature Litigation’s commercial and insolvency disputes team, Paul Brehony warns that he is ‘fearful’ about recent developments and the tenacious grip Covid continues to have on both society and the economy. “The expectation that this would be a temporary storm that otherwise viable businesses could weather with appropriate support is now fading,” he says. “We need a culture of consensus, particularly between businesses and their creditors, to get through this crisis, but the initial collectivism is starting to evaporate and is not helped by increasing distrust of government.”

With thirty years experience of complex, multi-jurisdictional cases at Stewarts and at PwC, Brehony reflects that the past ten years of his career has been spent dealing with fall-out from the financial crisis of 2009/10 (particularly the collapse of the Icelandic banks). As things stand, he anticipates that the 2020s and beyond may be dominated similarly by disputes linked to the Covid crisis. “There is, inevitably, going to be a long tail of disputes arising from corporate failures and the related pathology of director delinquency and fraud,” he says.

The upshot is that there is a lot of work to be done in the disputes and insolvency arenas – and Signature Litigation is the ideal place to do it. “Signature is a boutique firm but is unusual in having an international make-up and outlook with offices in Paris and Gibraltar,” he says. “And I also like its unique democratic ‘John Lewis’-style structure.”

Bucking the wider trend Signature has announced good results recently with an annual profit share of 17.2%, paid to all members of the firm as part of its fixed profit sharing model.

Kevin Munslow, CEO of Signature Litigation, commented: “Our FY20 results reflect strong performance across all areas of the Firm consistent with our long term goal of managed year on year growth. Whilst the impact of Covid-19 means that we enter the new financial year with a degree of caution, we nonetheless remain committed to building an environment that delivers on the aspirations of every member of the Firm and a culture where the fruits of success are shared with all our members without discretion or variation.”

A role model of consensus, maybe, for others to follow.



If you are interested in insolvency then here’s a webinar for you. 16:00 – 16:30, Thursday, 15th October 2020
Online! With the Hardwicke Insolvency Team
Amanda EilledgeAileen McErlean and Katrina Mather will be looking at issues they have been dealing with under the standard term CVAs and in particular, forfeiture, termination for dissatisfied compromised landlords, non-domestic rates and issues with leaseholds generally. Get in touch with Usman Roohani, who will be moderating, if you would like to pose any questions or make any comments on these issues in advance of the brew. You will of course also be able to ask questions and make comments during the #HardwickeBrew itself.

To keep you going until then and following on from last week’s lively #HardwickeBrew, Alaric Watson guides you through the complicated position regarding the practice directions governing insolvency proceedings.

As before, wandering children and pets welcome!

If you would like to join in, please indicate this by clicking on the button below. If you would like to send our invitation to colleagues, please do this and ask them to e-mail: events@hardwicke.co.uk if they would like to be included. 

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



The row over the legal ownership of Venezuelan gold (worth about £1.8 bn.) held by the Bank of England on behalf the Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV) took an important turn this week in the English Court of Appeal when a previous judgment delivered by Mr Justice Teare  was overturned. 

The case hinges on the question of who has the right to dispose of the gold on behalf of the Venezuelan people. Mr Justice Teare’s conclusion was that the UK Government’s disapproval of the Maduro regime and recognition, instead, of Juan Guaidó as “constitutional interim President of Venezuela” in February 2019 was conclusive. However this week the Court of Appeal disagreed and the case has now been remitted back to the Commercial Court. to determine who should be recognised as exercising the de facto powers of head of state and head of government in Venezuela. 

Behind the dispute is the aim of BCV to sell approximately €1bn of Venezuela’s foreign reserves held by the Bank of England and   transfer  the proceeds to the United Nations Development Programme to procure humanitarian aid, medicine and equipment. However the Bank of England has denied BCV access to the gold on the grounds that the regime of President Maduro is not legitimate.Iand  the UK Government’s limited recognition of Juan Guaidó as “constitutional interim President of Venezuela.”  

Acting for the BCV has been the London firm of Zaiwalla & Co headed by Sarosh Zaiwalla who, not for the first time, finds himself on the other side from the UK authorities. After a series of successes – notably in the Iranian Bank Mallat case – against the British Government Mr Zaiwalla is now the ‘go to’ lawyer for foreign businesses and governments who are in dispute with the big institutions.

Asked what is the secret of his success Sarosh Zaiwalla says, candidly, that what drives him is a strong sense of what is ‘fair and right’. In the case of the Nicolás Maduro’s regime he feels it is inconsistent for the UK authorities to single him out for special treatment while other Presidents of doubtful democratic credentials around the world are fully recognised.

“My approach is to start by asking what should be the right answer – morally and legally – to the problem and then use the law to achieve that answer. I aim to keep things simple and I believe that I do have a clear head for seeing what will work. The answer is not always immediately obvious but I reflect and I pray and in due course the solution appears”

Mr Zaiwalla goes on to say that in the BCV case he and his client are looking for a resolution as soon as possible. “That money is needed urgently in Venezuela to help ordinary people, the victims of Covid. This is not money going into the pockets of politicians. It is needed for services to the man and woman on the street.”


by MARK LUBBOCK, Brown Rudnick


Earlier this week the Court of Justice of the EU issued a key decision on data surveillance. Here MARK LUBBOCK, data protection partner at Brown Rudnick comments on the significance of that decision and the recent judgement of the invalidation of the US/EU privacy shield in July, for the City and for businesses that share data.

 “This week’s judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union and its recent judgment which ruled on the legitimacy of the US/EU privacy shield and the so-called standard contractual clauses (another method to facilitate the transfer of personal data) could have significant consequences for British commerce and industry and especially for the UK’s world leading financial services sector. “

 “Businesses and banks operating in the EU after 1st January 2021 may not have an easily available mechanism to transfer personal data to the UK – this could, for example, mean that messaging networks used by banks and other financial institutions to send and receive information, such as money transfer instructions will not be able to operate through London. Such a result will be grist for the mill for those in the EU seeking to undermine London’s predominance as a global leader in financial services – which we know is an aim of the European Commission and  other EU bodies who seek to shift the centre of gravity of financial services from London to Mainland Europe.”

 “This is because any finding that, because of the Government’s powers in respect of bulk surveillance of electronic communications, UK national laws do not provide individuals with protection which matches that in the EU, would mean that the UK will, like the US, not be regarded as having adequate data protection laws and so will not be entitled to an adequacy finding by the European Commission – worse, companies will not be easily able to use the standard contractual clauses to enable free flows of personal data.  Any company that illegally transfers data would also be subject to potential litigation including enforcement action by regulators who have the right under GDPR to levy fines of up to 4 % or worldwide turnover and also potential claims for damage and distress caused by such transfers.”

Oh dear! One more worry for Boris’s in-tray!


‘The Hollow Sound of Longing’ by Eva Papamargariti

In the era of Covid we are starting to look at almost everything is a new way so maybe the times is perfect for the move of video and digital art into the mainstream – including into the offices of law firms.

Michael O’Donoghue, who now masterminds the Hogan Lovells collection, is hugely inspired by the current DAATA Fair which runs until October 25th. A curated fair, the DAATA event provides a focus for 20 invited galleries hailing from across Europe, Asia, North America and South America to feature six works by leading digital artists.

“One of my key objectives was to widen the range of work we had on display in the firm,” explains Michael, “and so digital work was something I was interested in exploring. Unlike conventional painting or sculpture, however, we found that it is important to change or vary digital art on a regular basis so the service offered by Daata seemed ideal.”

By definition digital art can be made available in a variety of ways from exhibition on a large screen in a Reception area to individual Smartphones. This gives an immense range of options to curators including whether to extend access to clients and friends of the firm.

So it is all still in an experimental phase and Hogan Lovells plans to put its toe in the water via up-coming temporary exhibitions in conjunction with DAATA.

“Daata commissions artists who work with video, sound and digital media,” explains David Gryn, Director & Founder of Daata. “ It is such a simple solution to add video artworks to digital screens, and to constantly change and update them too. Daata also provides a subscription service where companies, in addition or instead of purchasing artworks can create their own playlists or stream Daata TV, both enabling virtually an ever-ending supply of changeable artworks throughout the day. Daata works with leading artists such as Tracey Emin, Jacolby Satterwhite, Chloe Wise and Jakob Kudsk Steensen, and leading art galleries from all over the world that include Hauser & Wirth and Thaddaeus Ropac.”

So a pretty exciting, new horizon for art in law firms.

For more go to http://daata.art @daata.art 

‘We don’t need another mural’ by Jibade-Khalil Huffman

Hope that you have enjoyed this edition of the LEGAL DIARY. If so, please send on to friends and colleagues – or even register to follow. We shall be back next week so please send comments, suggestions, contributions to


Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Diary stories, comment and insights from the legal world

Friday 2 OCTOBER 2020      Edition 28



Everything is topsy-turvy right now and it’s anyone’s guess as to whether post-Covid  (if that ever happens) the new normal will be for law firms to expand, contract or remain where they are. But, undoubtedly, the general belief until early Spring was that bigger was better with the legal press full of nothing but expansion and amalgamations by large firms with smaller firms (not all of which went well).

Contrast this with the experience of boutique litigation firm Lipman Karas LLP which has announced the appointment of Adam Greaves as a principal in the firm – the first lateral hire at partner level in London since the opening of the UK office in 2012. The firm’s strategy has been to be slow but sure. Only the right person would do at the right time and place. As London office principal Andrew Ford commented, “It is difficult to find the right person to join a boutique practice where teamwork is at the heart of everything we do.”

Maybe under the new dispensation we all need to become a little more boutiquey.

The Legaldiarist

In this week’s edition


+ Nicky Morgan at Travers Smith

+ Freshfields makes up its mind

+ Lee Ranson stays on at Eversheds Sutherland

+ Insurance rates on the up

+Cardinal bids Ciao to Italian Stallion


Vital importance of biodiversity, says Stephen Shergold of Dentons


Welcome Back Baroness

The internecine warfare in the Tory party last year brought an end to the Parliamentary careers  of many able and principled  politicians. One of the great survivors, however, proved to be Nicky Morgan whose conflicts with Boris Johnson never quite reached the final crisis point experienced by some of her colleagues (including not least David Gauke, the former Lord Chancellor). Her reward came post-election with appointment to the House of Lords under the moniker The Rt Hon Baroness Morgan of Cotes where her wealth of experience across matters ranging from digital culture to equalities makes here a versatile resource for the Government.

But clearly she still has time – and energy – on her hands so it is no great surprise that as a former Travers Smith solicitor she has now rejoined the firm as a Consultant to the firm’s Technology Sector Group. The benefits to both sides are obvious. Having been a successful Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport she can draw on unique insights into Whitehall thinking. All of this adds richness to the firm’s offer to clients in the fields of data protection and compliance. As Travers Smith’s Senior Partner Kathleen Russ commented,” We are seeing an increasing demand from clients for our assistance on of the key legal, risk and regulatory issues across a broad spectrum of technology trends, such as fintech, AI, data protection, data breaches and tech investments. Nicky’s substantial legal expertise, coupled with her in-depth understanding of the technology sector and knowledge of the current policy and political landscape, will enable us to further enhance the support we provide to clients at a time of both increasing scrutiny and regulation, as well as new opportunities for business growth in the sector.”

For her part Nicky Morgan – sorry, The Rt Hon Baroness Morgan of Cotes –said, “It is a delight to be working with Travers Smith again where I spent eight very enjoyable years until my election in 2010.” Just how enjoyable those years after 2010 were will be a question for the historians.  

Freshening Things Up

It’s all change at Freshfields with the arrival of a shiny new top management team including  Senior Partner Georgia Dawson whose most recent credentials include being the firm’s Asia managing partner and the leader of the Asia dispute resolution practice.

By chance – or maybe not –  this coincides with the introduction by the firm of Unmind, a workplace mental health and wellbeing app, which is designed to   enable its partners and employees “To proactively measure and manage their mental wellbeing.”  

Any suggestion of ‘measuring’ by lawyers instantly sets off alarm bells. Will there be league tables of mental well-being scores? Can time spent on mental well-being measurement be set off against billable hours targets? The big questions go on and on –including what exactly is meant by ‘to proactively measure’ – why not just measure?

The story is that the  Unmind platform will offer Freshfields colleagues’ access to tools created by experts in neuroscience, cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness and positive psychology. It includes tailored mental health support and personalised suggestions, from focus and mediation exercises in the morning, to using sleep and unwind tools at night. (So what happens during those ‘all-nighters’ then?)

In fairness Freshfields has done its bit on mental health issues having trained more than 260 employees globally in mental health first aid. The firm has also signed the Mindful Business Charter, a collaboration between banks and leading law firms committed to promoting better mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

This is all a long way – and a generation – from the days when the firm was well-known for its drivehard culture. And as for having a woman as Senior Partner – well, it speaks for itself.

For Ever and Ever?

Just as Freshfields opens a new chapter with the election of Georgia Dawson so Eversheds decides to continue with the tried and tested Lee Ranson who has been reappointed as Chief Executive of Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP for a further four years.  

Pamela Thompson, who chairs the firm, highlighted Ranson’s achievements over the past years and especially during the difficulties of recent months.   “We are fortunate to have had Lee leading the firm during the past few challenging years, none more so than 2020,” she said. “Despite geopolitical and economic turbulence and, now, an unprecedented health crisis, the firm has gone from strength to strength. I am confident that with Lee as our Chief Executive we are in a strong position to meet both challenge and opportunity.”

For his part Ranson acknowledged just how far the firm had come. “The firm has changed beyond all recognition in the 30 years since I first joined, and I am proud of everything that we have achieved together. I look forward to working with our talented teams around the world over the coming period.”

The fact that he credited ‘around the world’ will be significant. When Eversheds was created out of a merger of English provincial firms back in the early 1990s – around the time that Ranson started out  –  it proclaimed that its mission was to serve the UK market only. There would never be any overseas adventures for Eversheds. How things have changed!

Going up!

Against a backdrop of  news that Osborne Clarke is facing a multi-million pound court dispute with Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon Homes over claims of negligence and breach of contract,  Hazlewoods  (the Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers who specialise in the legal profession) have predicted that law firms face increasing Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) premiums this Autumn. The estimate is that the average premium for the mandatory minimum PI insurance will  increase by around 30% to 40% on last year. Added to that the  larger law firms are likely to have to shoulder increased insurance premiums for the price of ‘additional layers’ of PI insurance above £3m. Normally in the past these additional layers have come cheaper.

As Hazelwoods points out, “The rising cost of professional negligence insurance is also being driven by a shrinking pool of insurers in this area, as many have gradually withdrawn from what has been an unprofitable market for several years. Some insurers are effectively refusing to provide PII cover to smaller law firms or those with significant exposure to residential conveyancing, making it harder for some law firms to find an insurer.”

These developments clearly show the way the wind is blowing for the legal sector as a whole. Some of the top flight firms might still be enjoying wealth beyond their wildest dreams but for the rank and file the times are definitely getting much harder. As Andy Harris of Hazelwoods points out, “With fewer insurers in the market and those who are left increasingly risk averse, law firms will need to prepare themselves for a difficult renewal season.”

Lessons from Latin Lawyers

In these uncertain times it is reassuring that Italy continues to create stories about lawyers which could only come out of the country of Cesare Borgia and Machiavelli.

Featured in the Italian newspapers this week is the case of Cardinal Angelo Becciu who has been forced to announce his resignation amidst a flurry of questions about use of Vatican funds and an inquiry into a ’palazzo di Londra’. 

So far, so par for the course. What adds spice to the story from the legal perspective is the activities of lawyer Ivano Iai who has close ties to the cardinal’s family. Unfortunately for Sig. Lai those ties have now been cut following publicity surrounding the lawyer’s Instagram account and images of Sig. Lai emerging out of the sea like Hercules wearing little more than the tightest of briefs covering the most prominent of groins.

Now admittedly Sig. Iai has a lot to show off. With a ferociously honed body he could easily grace the front cover of any body-building magazine. But is it seemly that a lawyer should be displaying his manhood quite so prominently? The Cardinal’s family thought not. As the newspapers report, it had become a matter of ‘hilarity on social media’. A lesson for all London lawyers to note – even if you have a body of a God, don’t think you are God (especially if your client is a cardinal). 


We need to act on biodiversity, says STEPHEN SHERGOLD of DENTONS

This week’s UN Biodiversity Summit in New York brought together global leaders committed to arrest the rate of biodiversity degradation across land and marine habitats. But words need to be backed up by actions including hard law, says Stephen Shergold, head of the UK environment practice at Dentons. These are his observations:

‘ Addressing the consequences of biodiversity destruction lags way behind climate in terms of common consciousness, yet is equally important to our sustainable future. The damage to people’s health is less visible: whereas people are connecting the impacts of hurricanes, wild fires and floods to climate change, it will take much longer for people to realise the detriment to their health from global biodiversity degradation.

 Decarbonisation has been driven by law for over quarter of a century, from early emissions trading schemes and Kyoto’s flexible mechanisms in 1997, but it is only in the last few years that widespread acceptance of the Paris Accord has led to meaningful commitments by multinationals and the advent of energy transition. As a global community, we clearly need to move faster than this to address the catastrophic consequences of biodiversity destruction.

 The challenge for global leaders who are to make these commitments today is to articulate that message and educate their citizens. Their ability to bring forward the regulations that are needed to drive change will only be politically acceptable if they do. They need to legislate, and they will need to do so quickly.

 In parallel, business needs to act. We have recently seen how civil society has pressured business to move before regulators have been able to deliver an even playing field. As a result, responsible businesses have subscribed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the biodiversity commitments therein.

 Making those commitments real will now come under close scrutiny by investors, consumers and other stakeholders. Do businesses know their impact on biodiversity? Where projects have direct effects, are biodiversity management plans being effectively implemented?  Are contractors and suppliers adhering to the same corporate standards?  Has executive leadership developed a strategic approach to the business risk associated with biodiversity degradation? Is leadership acutely aware of the nature of legal mechanisms that will arise to regulate this change? Are detrimental impacts reported within the business?’

Board rooms should start asking these questions, and business performance must answer them – shareholder value depends on it.’ 

Key issues in Taxation – Contract terminations and damages – HMRC change the goalposts 8 October 2020 10:00 – 11:00 Webinar  
    Accept   Decline    
Speakers   Eloise Walker – Partner – Pinsent Masons
Richard Croker – Senior Consultant – Pinsent Masons Clara Boyd – Partner – Pinsent Masons

The Legaldiarist returns to the UK from Italy next week and normal service will be resumed. Please send your news and comments about the legal world to