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

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

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

IN THIS WEEK’S EDITION

+ 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

LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

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.

BANKING ON IT

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/

LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK

BORDER FORCE?

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

http://www.excellolaw.co.uk 

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

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

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

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK



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

CONTENT

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

LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

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.

LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

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

APPOINTMENT OF THE WEEK

DEL CANTO APPOINTS

MRS MARYAM JASSIM AL BADER AS DOHA HEAD

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.

THE ART OF LAW

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

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Friday October 9 2020 Edition 29

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

SHORT THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

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

+ LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

+COURT REPORT OF THE WEEK

+ A WINNING FORMULA IN THE COURT OF APPEAL

+ COMMENT OF THE WEEK by MARK LUBBOCK, Brown Rudnick

+ DEVELOPMENTS IN DATA SURVEILLANCE AND THE THREAT FROM BREXIT

+ OFF THE WALL – ART GOES DIGITAL IN LAW FIRMS

LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

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.  

CAN WE HAVE OUR MONEY BACK, PLEASE?

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.”

COOLEY LAWYER BECOMES RECORDER

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!

HOW HAS THE C-VIRUS AFFECTED WOMEN IN LAW?

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.

CONTENTIOUS INSOLVENCY EXPERT JOINS SIGNATURE LITIGATION AND WARNS ABOUT FUTURE OF ECONOMY

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.

 


WEBINAR OF NEXT WEEK

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.
     
 
 
 

COURT REPORT OF THE WEEK

A WINNING FORMULA IN THE COURT OF APPEAL

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.”

COMMENT OF THE WEEK

by MARK LUBBOCK, Brown Rudnick

DEVELOPMENTS IN DATA SURVEILLANCE AND THE THREAT FROM BREXIT

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!

OFF THE WALL – ART GOES DIGITAL IN LAW FIRMS

‘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

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Diary stories, comment and insights from the legal world

Friday 2 OCTOBER 2020      Edition 28

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL (AGAIN)?

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

THE LEGAL DIARY

+ 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

LAW PLATFORM

Vital importance of biodiversity, says Stephen Shergold of Dentons

THIS WEEK’S LEGAL DIARY

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). 

 LAW PLATFORM

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.’ 

                  FOR YOUR DIARY   UPCOMING WEBINAR FROM PINSENT MASONS    
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

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Diary stories, comment and insights from the legal world

Friday 25 September 2020      Edition 27

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

             PROFITABLE TO FOLLOW THE RULE OF LAW?

New tighter restrictions following the rise of Covid cases have brought gloom combined with grim acceptance of the necessity of the move. The hospitality business will be particularly hard hit.

So the international tracker report on hotels’ anti-Covid regimes  published this week by Bird & Bird (see below) will be very useful at this time not least because (as my observations of restaurants and hotels in Italy over the last few weeks have confirmed) there can be real positives in sticking to the law.

One particular restaurant in a small provincial town – which had been lacklustre for years –  has seen a boom in the number of diners in the last six months. Why? Because it has gone out of its way to emphasise and enforce Italy’s tight anti-Covid rules. This has gone down very well with the local residents who now flock in having fled their usual, less stringent haunts. Whether this restaurant will sustain new customer loyalty once (if) the pandemic is over remains to be seen.  But the opportunity has arisen. Sticking to the letter of the law pays off.

The LegalDiarist

This week’s contents

CLIFFFORD CHANCE SIGNS UP

A WINNER FOR BIRMINGHAM

COVID GUIDANCE FOR HOTELS

A NEW BOOK ON CONTRACT LAW

FLOWER-THROWING IN THE LEGAL GLASS HOUSE

YOUR GOLD OR MINE? ASKS VENEZUELA

ELA HAS A NEW HEAD

POST OFFICE SCANDAL: WHEN WILL IT END?

WHY SAILING MUST BE REINSTATED IN THE PARALYMPICS!

CORRECTION OVER RAKIA CASE

My apologies for being a little too ‘previous’ with my account last week of the latest developments in the important case in  London involving the UAE state of RAK’s investment authority (RAKIA) and the American aviation tycoon Farhad Azim. I stated that the claim made by Mr Azima  (that agents acting for RAK had hacked his personal financial information) had been upheld in the court. I should have said that the case will now be heard by the Court of Appeal. So look out for the next exciting episode.

THE LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

CLIFFORD CHANCE SUPPORTS THE LAW

(PHEW, THAT’S A RELIEF)

Clifford Chance has signed the United Nations (UN) Global Compact’s Statement from Business leaders for Renewed Global Cooperation. This states that peace, justice and strong institutions are beneficial to the long-term viability of businesses and are foundational for upholding the ten principles of the UN Global Compact and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “Against a backdrop of unprecedented disruption, cooperation across borders and sectors is more important than ever,” says Clifford Chance Global Senior Partner, Jeroen Ouwehand, “Our greatest influence lies in our robust partnerships with clients, NGO partners, legislators and governments. Our continued commitment to the UN Global Compact gives us a valuable framework for this; using our role as guardians of the rule of law to effect sustainable progress and change in the areas that need it the most.”

A BEACON FOR BIRMINGHAM

At least one of my regular readers is Brummie born-and-bred so this story is specially for him.

Birmingham sometimes has a problem living up to its status as England’s ‘Second City’ – not least because Manchester eclipses it so readily in everything from football teams to hosting the BBC. But legally Birmingham can give the Mancs a run for their money not least because of its local economy boasting the largest concentration of businesses outside of London.

So the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce now presents annually its  ‘Future Faces’ Awards including one for the legal sector, This year’s winner is James Farmer, Chambers Director of Cornwall Street Barristers who received the award after facing tight competition from the other shortlisted candidates based in Irwin Mitchell, Pinsent Masons, and Barker Brettell.

Mr Farmer wasted no time before plugging Cornwall Street which has increased its turn-over in the last couple of years from £3.6m to a (pre-covid) projection of just over £5m and now has well over fifty barristers. “We have entered new and exciting areas of law which we continue to build upon and we have created links with other sets and other organisations to be best placed to plan for the future” he said.  “We take great pride in our values of being collegiate, supportive, forward thinking and professional and I am also incredibly proud of our members and staff who have worked tirelessly to ensure Chambers weathers the Covid-19 storm that is upon us.”

Farmer, it turns out, was head hunted four years ago at the age of 28 so he’s clearly one to watch. But could he resist a lure from London?

BIRDS MAP OUT THE HOTEL BIZ

Coinciding with the revelation that the combined market capitalization of the five largest hotel chains in the world fell to $79.2bn this month – a $25.2bn plunge since the beginning of 2020  (with Marriot International undertaking the biggest drop) – Bird & Bird has launched  an ‘international; tracker’ which reports on the key issues which hotels need to consider when re-opening in the face of COVID-19.

The tracker provides, says the firm, an overview of the current requirements hotels must be aware of and government support available to the sector in various jurisdictions around the world. For each country, the tracker summarises:

1.Lockdown status, including whether the country is in lockdown and timelines for its easing

2.Hospitality status, including whether hotels are permitted to open, social distancing measures and any requirements in relation to staff

3.Hotel facilities status, including whether hotel, F&B and leisure facilities are open and any restrictions in place relating to these facilities

4.Government support, including relief available for commercial tenants

 It currently covers Australia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, China, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, the UAE and even the UK (a tricky one this given that whatever the regs were last week they will almost certainly change – cumming or going).

CONTRACT ‘BRIDGE’ FOR ALL

Contract law – a good subject for a fun Sunday afternoon read? That’s the idea of Professor Mark Watson-Gandy a practising barrister as well as a law professor) whose new book  ‘Simple Contract Law: A brief introduction to English Contract Law’ has just been published.

Not having had the opportunity to see it yet at first-hand I am relying on the assurance given by the publisher that it is “concise and fun to read” and designed to be consumed in a single afternoon. “From core concepts and illuminating (sometimes funny!) leading cases, to a helpful glossary of what some of the most commonly used terms actually do,  it’s the perfect book for both English and international law professionals, or those who are secretly fascinated by the legal world.” And what’s more it has got illustrations! (Not common, it must be said, among legal texts).

Having come across Professor Gandy’s work in the past I would not be surprised if he has pulled this off – especially as three quarters of those using London’s commercial courts during litigation come from outside of the UK and would probably appreciate a basic introduction to what’s what. “A quick and easy-to-read guide like this is long overdue,” says Watson-Gandy. He’s probably right.

‘Simple Contract Law: A brief introduction to English Contract Law’ is available now: https://amzn.to/3kbb6Q4

FLOWER-THROWING IN THE LEGAL GLASS HOUSE

Poets, as Percy Bysshe Shelley said, are the ‘unacknowledged legislators of the world’ but artists are the serial law breakers. After all it was Picasso who pointed out, “Good artists borrow but great artists steal.” And while no-one is accusing street artist Banksy of stealing he is facing accusations of being casual to the point of contemptuous of intellectual property law. 

This has all come to a head in the case of the ‘Flower Thrower’, one of his best-known works, where he has now lost his trademark for the work.  For why? Because he failed to reveal his identity to judges and was found to have dishonestly conducted parts of his legal battle with a UK card company. Referring to the use of the Flower Thrower in his 2019 shop, the judges found “his intention was not to use the mark as a trademark to commercialise goods… but only to circumnavigate the law.”

The whole case sounds rather baffling but Dennis Lee, Partner at BDB Pitmans, explains it thus. “Trying to use trade mark (which could potentially have an unlimited lifespan) to circumvent the expiry of copyright protection (which only lasts for 70 years after death) is not novel. But Banksy’s open “disdain for intellectual property rights” and actions – including opening a pop-up shop in Croydon to (cynically) show use of the mark in certain classes – certainly did not garner any sympathy from the judges in this case. A trade mark filed without the genuine intention of use may still get through to registration if it remains unchallenged, but an image as iconic as the one in question carries far too many commercial interests to escape being cancelled for bad faith reasons.”

‘Bad faith reasons’? Some of us might suspect that almost all the most expensive  contemporary  art is shot through with bad faith. Maybe Professor Watson-Gandy could be persuaded to write a fun guide to IP law especially for child artists. It would certainly help them in their subsequent careers.

YOUR GOLD OR MINE?

A big question for anyone interested in South American politics –  just who, these days, is the President of Venezuela?

This is particularly significant for the Banco Central de Venezuela which is keen get its hands on almost two billion euros worth of gold which is currently in the care of the Bank of England. Put bluntly, the Bank of England has declined to cooperate so far on the grounds that it does not regard the country’s current regime – and indeed the management of the bank – as legitimate. The case has gone to the Court of Appeal where it has all been thrashed out this week.

Leigh Crestohl, a Partner at Zaiwalla & Co, representing the Banco Central de Venezuela, is keen to reject any slights on the status of his client.  “The BCV President and Board in Caracas remain in full effective control of the central bank in Venezuela and its facilities, and they are carrying out the day to day functions of the BCV as the nation’s central bank.” In other words get real.

So there we are – it’s complicated. And its implications extend beyond the gold itself . The Judgment will be handed down in due course

ELA HAS A NEW HEAD

The Employment Lawyers Association (ELA), the apolitical organisation representing over 6,000 specialist, qualified employment lawyers in the UK, has elected a new Chair.   Marian Bloodworth, Employment Partner at Kemp Little LLP, took over as Chair earlier this month and will be in the role until the Autumn  2022. 

Described as “unflappable” and “an outstanding lawyer with superb judgment and tactical acumen” she has already made a significant impact in the field of employment law having acted in 2019 as special advisor to the UK Parliamentary Women and Equalities Select Committee in relation to their inquiry and report into the use of NDAs in discrimination and harassment complaints. She also sits on the advisory board of Women in Banking and Finance (https://www.wibf.org.uk/) and is Co-Chair of the City HR Policy Committee (https://cityhr.co.uk/). 

POST OFFICE SCANDAL: WHEN WILL IT END?

Following extensive lobbying by lawyers and some journalists, the plight of the Sub-Postmasters falsely accused of theft by the Post Office has gradually worked its way into the public consciousness. Here’s the latest statement on developments from Nick Gould of law firm Aria Grace who has worked closely with the victims.

“Aria Grace is part of a team working with several Post Office Appellants on a pro bono basis and the Criminal Appeal Office has let us know that a Directions Hearing is now set down for 11th November.

 Despite almost a year having passed since Mr Justice Fraser’s devastating judgment against it, the Post Office has, to date, given no indication that it will not be resisting all the appeals referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission. Ordinarily, the statutory requirement  for a referral by the CCRC  is a previous unsuccessful appeal to the Court of Appeal. There is an exception to that requirement in  “exceptional “ circumstances. It is a remarkable feature of the Post Office Appeals  that all but one of  the 40 plus appeals  is a first appeal  and therefore considered by the CCRC to be “ exceptional.“  Just to repeat,  40 plus “exceptional “ appeals.

 Lives destroyed , people ill or dying or dead now – yet apparently neither ethics , nor morality or even good old common sense plays any part in the  thinking of the Post Office board in these matters ?”

WHY SAILING MUST BE REINSTATED IN THE PARALYMPICS!

Law firm HFW – which has a long history of being associated with the sea – has given its backing to the campaign to have sailing restored as a Paralympic sport. As part of this  it will host on 8th October at 9am BST a webinar featuring  Paralympian  sailors Hannah Stodel (Great Britain)

 and Jovin Tan (Singapore) who 

will discuss their hopes that the IPC might approve a future application for sailing to get back into the Games, and how 

submission of such an application  might be achieved. The webinar will be chaired by HFW partner William MacLachlan.

For more contact Sean Twomey Director of Marketing & Business Development at HFW
e-mail sean.twomey@hfw.com

And for next week……..

The Legal Diary will be published again at the end of next week. Do send in your Diary stories and comments on the state of the law to

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Diary stories, comment and insights from the legal world

Friday 18 September 2020      Edition 26

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Kingsley Napley is to be congratulated for its sponsorship and organisation of the annual LEGAL APPRENTICE competition which aims to promote awareness of the legal profession among young students and encourage more pupils from non-traditional backgrounds to consider a career in law. 

This year, in keeping with the Covid crisis, the final was held by zoom rather than in grand surroundings in central London. Nonetheless the fact that it was held at all is a tribute to the adaptability of all involved and not least the winners, the team from The Tiffin Girls’ School (Kingston upon Thames).

How the legal profession will adapt to its new circumstances – socially, technologically and healthwise – remains to be seen but the increasing hiring of new entrants via an apprenticeship must be a part of the answer.

The LegalDiarist

THE LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

CMS ASKS QUESTIONS OF GCs

The empowerment of General Counsel so that they can be seen to ‘deliver value’ to their organisations and not be seen only as an irritating cost is an on-going story. Law firm CMS has been doing its best to help out for more than a decade through the regular publication of reports produced in partnership with the European Company Lawyers Association (ECLA). ‘CREATING CONNECTIONS AND BRIDGING GAPS’ has just been published as the latest title in the series  with the aim of upskilling GCs by focusing on how they can position themselves as ‘strategic advisors’.

“This has never been more important for GCs than during the COVID-19 pandemic, when in-house legal teams are required to deal with existential threats to their businesses and play leading positive roles within crisis response teams,” comments CMS. “The report considers how to build strategies to develop and succeed as a GC which can be applied to many of the new challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.”

 Looking at issues such as ethics, credibility, value and communication the report sets up 101 questions and answers to provoke analysis of GCs’ own performance and pathways for further development. “The questions posed in this edition offer thoughtful and practical insights, to which GCs can return for consideration time and time again,” says Jonathan Warne, Head of the Litigation and Arbitration Team at CMS. “Whilst much of the report was prepared before the outbreak of COVID-19, the content is perhaps more relevant now. Businesses are expecting even more from their GCs and there will be great opportunities for GCs who are equipped to deliver more value.”

The ‘Creating connections and bridging gaps”’report is available here.

PENSION FUND GOING OFF THE RAILS

Things are going from bad to worse in the railway industry with the Covid crisis now being followed by a warning that a proposed major regulatory shake-up would blow a £15bn hole in its finances

“Introducing such wide ranging changes is a particular challenge at a time of significant economic flux,” said Rosalind Connor of ARC Pensions Law. “Any [possible] savings must be offset against the costs to schemes of adjusting to a new system of regulation.

“In terms of ensuring the effectiveness and cost efficiency of the regulatory regime, following a well-trodden path must surely be the best course of action. Continuing to use an effective and widely understood system allows trustees to focus time and money on new challenges, such as GMP equalisation, or on long neglected areas, such as data and benefit audits. It also gives trustees more time to focus on taking prudent steps to protect schemes from the ravages of the economic fallout from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.”

WFH might mark the end of the great railway commuter era but deflating pensions will provide the concluding sound track.

RACKING UP THE TENSION

Events connected to the tiny state of RAK (Ras Al Khaimah) within the UAE  seem to come more from the overactive mind of a thriller writer than the day-to-day world of business law – but, still, truth is stranger than fiction. Hence in the latest twist in the tale of the court battle between American aviation tycoon Farhad Azima and RAKIA (the RAK investment authority) the claim made by Mr Azima that agents acting for RAK had hacked his personal financial information(which was then published on the Dark Web) has been upheld in the Court of Appeal.

Witnesses for RAK had claimed that Mr Azima’s stolen data had been ‘innocently discovered by Google searches’  undertaken by a friend of Stuart Page, a private investigator who had been hired by the Ruler of RAK to monitor Mr Azima. However, the Deputy High Court Judge, Andrew Lenon QC, was not entirely convinced. “It would be a reasonable inference to draw from these incidents that Mr Page has access to agents with the capacity to hack emails” he said, adding that “Mr Page operates in a world of covert surveillance in which agents acquire confidential information unlawfully”. Consequently he rejected the ‘innocent discovery’ explanation in its entirety

A spokesperson for Mr Azima commented after the judgment. “We welcome this decision by the Court of Appeal. We are 100% confident of our position. New evidence continues to emerge which further demonstrates that RAKIA is responsible for the hacking of Mr Azima. We believe that they have been running a false case in front of the Court and we will request the reversal of the first instance Judgment with a finding that RAKIA was responsible for the hacking, or a full retrial.”

Mr Azima is represented by Tim Lord QC and Hugo Leith of Brick Court Chambers, instructed by Burlingtons Legal LLP.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

‘Deplorable that any Government should display such contempt for the Rule of Law’

                                                               James Harper, LexisNexis UK

Maybe having responsibility for the strange world of Northern Irish politics has affected his mind but the Secretary of State for that benighted province has much to answer for in his comments about the Government countenancing breaking the law. While Whitehall is now rowing back (and forward or both) over its position, the controversial comments did at least stimulate a vociferous defence of the rule of law from the wider world. Here is some of what James Harper, Executive Sponsor of Rule of Law at LexisNexis UK, thepublisher of Erskine May and Halsbury Laws of England, had to say.

Now more than ever, we need to demand a greater observance to and respect for the core principles of the Rule of Law, supposedly the bedrock of democracy.  The Rule of Law must prevail if economies are to prosper and nations to live in peace

The Rule of Law must be sacred, transcending everything.  The statement “we will break the law” should never even be an option.

These are worrying developments and are part of a developing undercurrent of anti-lawyer rhetoric that will be hugely damaging to the legal profession. Examples can be seen in recent Home Office comments, labelling those representing asylum seekers as “activist lawyers” – lawyers who are representing individuals and protecting their rights, are instead blamed for preventing the rapid deportation of migrants.  Elsewhere, an independent body has been set up to look at judicial review and consider whether the courts have too great an ability to review government action for its lawfulness – the suggestion being not that the Government is acting beyond its powers, but that the courts should stay clear of “politics”. 

Back in the 17th century Parliament challenged the king‘s power. Now the politicians are challenging the courts. Will civil war follow?

QUICKIE DIVORCE? BEWARE THE SLIP-UPS

Marry in haste and repent at leisure was the old saw but the opposite might also apply – divorce in haste and repent for ever. While the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill has widespread support politically and across society-at-large – and is likely to come into effect this time next year –  concerns are now being expressed about the adverse implications of rushing into a divorce without thinking about the long term consequences.

In particular it is being suggested that quick, ‘DIY’ divorces might disproportionately prejudice women. “All too often a divorcing couple will obtain a divorce and stop there,” says Anna-Laura Lock, Senior Associate at Winckworth Sherwood. “Others might agree to an arrangement (formal or otherwise) that is not fair either at the time it is made or in the future. This predominantly impacts the financially weaker party and in a heterosexual relationship this is typically a woman, although it would apply to any partner who, for example, has stayed home to raise children.”

In cases where one party has significantly sacrificed their earnings, continues Lock, particularly when close to retirement, it is essential to obtain independent legal advice to understand what they are entitled to and what might be a fair division of finances post separation and divorce.” This might not be an easy exercise, as financial resources now have to be shared across two households.”

So while securing a roof-over-one’s-head might seem to be the over-riding priority initially this might not be an adequate long term solution. “There is nothing to suggest that ‘no-fault’ divorce is likely to result in an increase in unfair outcomes for women- this is not to say that there is not a problem,” concludes Lock. “As the statistics show, women are prejudiced by the current system and the new Bill offers no solution.”

DIVORCE ITALIAN STYLE

Looking for an unusual wedding gift in the age of lockdown? The Italian newspaper IL MESSAGGERO reports this week on a present given by a Neapolitan lawyer to a couple of newly-weds – a ‘divorce voucher’ to cover the legal expense of divorce if redeemed within three years of the nuptials.  And if the marriage survives beyond that (petty modest) deadline then the voucher can be converted into ‘sound money’. Sounds good to me.

The LegalDiarist is operating from Italy for the next few weeks but please continue sending your diary news and comments to

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

…and the FINAL SHOT

The art of the ‘brass plate’ has not been lost to Italian lawyers.  In the start of a new series here are some images of the entrances and exits of law firms in the Adriatic city of Senigallia where Machiavelli observed at first hand the political effectiveness of assassination – always a useful tool for a Senior Partner

Just an arrow’s reach from the medieval castle

Conveniently adjacent to the city’s cathedral

CIAO until next week!

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Tuesday September 8 2020 Teatime publication Edition 25

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

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

– STRAIGHT TALK NEEDED ON CHANGE

Herbert Smith Freehills has attracted publicity over the last few days regarding its ‘10 Actions for Change’ to drive progress on ethnic diversity globally (see more below). Accompanying the announcement was the comment by Danielle Kelly, Herbert Smith Freehills’ Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, that, “It is a priority for the firm to ensure that there are more conversations about race to create a safe, supportive and respectful environment where everyone feels seen and valued. ”

No doubt similar sentiments are being expressed in other firms as well. For those conversations to result in real change, however, maybe they need to be based on the need for real candor on all sides and recognize that they need to go on for quite some time. Change will not be achieved overnight. If people are permitted only to chirrup a standard correct line then deep-seated attitudes are not likely to shift. And people must be given confidence that what’s said as part of a genuine exchange will not be held against them in the future.

The Legaldiarist

Note: The Legal Diary is decamping to Italy for the next four weeks. We will still be publishing but to an ‘Italian’ timetable. So please keep sending your stories and views to fennell.edward@yahoo.com

IN THIS WEEK’S EDITION

+ THE LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

+ BOOK OF THE WEEK – AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A PRESIDENT

+ COMMENT OF THE WEEK – TIME FOR PARALEGALS?

+ WEBINARS OF THE WEEK – BROWN RUDNICK and MAGRATH SHELDRICK

LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

THE LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

DWF AND PINSENTS OFFICIALLY FAMILY FRIENDLY

Work-life balance charity Working Families has announced its annual list of the top family-friendly employers in the UK. And DWF along with Pinsent Masons have been ranked in the Top 10.

Employers from across the public, private, and third sectors compete annually to gain a coveted place on the charity’s list of Top Employers for Working Families.The benchmarking exercise assesses companies on core areas to build a comprehensive picture of their flexible and family-friendly policies and practices that specifically support mothers, fathers and carers.

Mark Qualter, CEO of Managed Services and Executive Sponsor for flexible working at DWF, said: “We are delighted to be named a Top 10 employer for Working Families again this year. Our positive focus on making flexible working the rule, not the exception, has enabled our colleagues to combine their family responsibilities with a career at DWF and supported our business to adapt easily during the pandemic too. Attracting and retaining a diverse and inclusive workforce remains a priority business issue for us, and progressing a family-friendly culture is an important part of helping us do that.”

Jane van Zyl, Chief Executive of Working Families, said “COVID-19 has demonstrated just how vital it is for employers to support the diverse needs of their staff team and build cultures that embrace flexible working. These employers excelled in our rigorous benchmarking process, proving they are leading the way in building family-friendly workplaces in the UK.”

NO INTERRUPTION TO MISHCON’S BUSINESS

Is ambulance chasing – or at least the travel and tourism equivalent – becoming respectable by bringing in a glossy PR agency to do the actual chasing?

The news this week that Mishcon de Reya – now without doubt one of London’s coolest law firms – has brought in Media Zoo, a rapidly expanding communications agency to support communications by its Business Interruption insurance litigation team marks an important precedent. Media Zoo took the initiative in identifying the non-payment of business interruption insurance as a major issue for British business in this Covid climate. It then became central to the formation of the leading pressure group in this area. Meanwhile, coming from the legal direction Mishcon is already representing over 400 businesses – notably through the Hiscox Action Group and Hospitality Insurance Group Action – who are challenging three insurers (Hiscox, Aviva and QBE) over their refusal to pay out on their business interruption insurance. Media Zoo will now continue to put a spotlight on the issue and also ‘engage with more hospitality businesses who may wish to join to the group action’.

So Mishcon is getting closer to the potential client group via the campaigners. Clever move. But, of course, this is a serious matter. As Mark Killick of Media Zoo points out, “The failure of insurers to pay out on legitimate business interruption insurance threatens the survival of hundreds of UK businesses. We look forward to working with Mishcon de Reya to try and get them to do the right thing.” A marriage made on the Costa del Sol.


THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF HSF

Leading global law firm Herbert Smith Freehills has announced 10 action areas to improve representation, support and experience for its Black, First Nations, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues.

 “Like others in the legal industry, we are not where we want to be, or where we should be, in our ethnic representation or our progress in dismantling systemic racism. Over recent weeks, we have been consulting across the firm about how we can actively become an anti-racist organisation, committed to confronting the deep-seated inequities from which no society or business is exempt.” Thus said Justin D’Agostino, the CEO of Herbert Smith Freehills as a prelude to publishing the firm’s 10 Actions for Change, namely

 1. Address barriers to the recruitment of Black, First Nations, Asian and minority ethnic people

2.      Improve retention of Black, First Nations, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues, and improve representation in more senior roles

  1. Deliver anti-racism workshops in addition to global D&I programmes
  2. Better inform and track our approach through robust data collection and analysis, and target-setting where appropriate
  3. Invest in research and continue listening to our people (including leavers) and communities
  4. Engage meaningfully with our clients on anti-racism
  5. Increase mentoring and work experience opportunities for young people from Black, First Nations, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds
  6. Support diversity within our supply chain and support businesses and social enterprises owned by Black, First Nations, Asian and minority ethnic people
  7. Increase pro bono support for organisations that address racial inequality
  8. Hold regional executives accountable for progress on ethnic diversity

“These actions are backed by initiatives and rigorous data collection to ensure we educate our firm,”added Danielle Kelly, Herbert Smith Freehills’ Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion. Maybe the findings should be published in an annual report?

KENNEDYS WITHOUT THE LAWYERS”

Kennedys has revealed a successful collaboration with the University of Manchester’s Decision and Cognitive Sciences Research Centre (DCSRC) following the implementation of ‘next-generation’ fraud prevention software, As well as being very good for Kennedys’ UK business the project also showcased its potential as a general theory to develop explainable artificial intelligence tools in many other sectors. “As fraud continues to become more sophisticated, fraud systems also need to up their game,” says Martin Stockdale, Head of Fraud at Kennedys. “This KTP has been critical in helping us take automated fraud detection across the industry to the next level”

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), backed by funding from Innovate UK, developed software that supports insurance claims-handling using modern machine learning, data analytics techniques, semantic technologies, intelligent modelling methodologies and decision support systems.

Kennedys is now building on this with a new project which will encompass the automation of all claim outcomes such as the liability decision, decisions around offer strategy and claim valuation. Furthermore Dr Xi Liu, who joined Kennedys as part of the KTP in 2018, is staying on as a data scientist. She is joining the team at Kennedys IQ, the separate technology driven company set up by Kennedys earlier this year with the purpose of being “Kennedys, without the lawyers”.

The success of the project has led to Kennedys being shortlisted for the Innovate UK Best of the Best Awards 2020. It has also enabled Kennedys to win funding for another significant new project, looking at how machine intelligence can be used to read insurance policies and automatically evaluate them for coverage.

Kennedys partner Richard West, who leads the Innovations Group at Kennedys, says: “The past two years have demonstrated the value of KTPs for all those involved. The insight the work has given us, and the software we have developed, will greatly benefit our clients and our continuing work to help them manage claims in less time, at a lower cost and with better outcomes.”

BOOK REVIEW OF THE WEEK – A PRESIDENTIAL VIEW

Alys Blakeway reviews HERE’S THE STORY by Mary McAleese

As a lawyer Mary McAleese took on terrorists and churches alike

It’s not the only book by a lawyer published this September but this autobiography by Mary McAleese, the first female president of the Irish republic, will reinforce the idea that the legal mind can rise above bigotry

A Catholic Northern Irish qualified barrister who was elected President of the Republic of Ireland, Mary McAleese’s first criminal case was typical of her life. She found herself defending a Protestant paramilitary against charges of assault and intimidation.  The accused was the very man whom she had last seen throwing a brick through the window of her family home. Cross-examining, she tried to get the police witness to admit that the accused had been mistakenly identified. He responded,as might only happen in Ulster, “Sure you know him as well as I do, Mary.”

This incident demonstrates Dr McAleese’s sense of humour and deep-rooted fair mindedness. Born in 1951, she grew up in Belfast’s mainly loyalist Ardoyne area during the Troubles. As witness to, and subject of, many incidents of Protestant violence and brutality, she also saw a long “ballad of revenge” unfold before her eyes as the Provisional IRA responded to these incidents.

Despite, or perhaps because of, this, she has followed her parents in renouncing violence and revenge. More than that, she has actively sought peace, reconciliation and justice in several areas of life. Not just the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the Christian churches on the island of Ireland but she has also fought for the victims of sexual abuse by priests of the Catholic church.

This commitment shines through her forthright account of her time as President of the Republic and canon law student in Rome. Readers will enjoy her brisk demolition of many an eminent priest or politician, including Pope Francis, contrasted with her warm and affectionate portrayal of those she admires – including Queen Elizabeth II. Also, her lively use of language and Irish slang – did you know “bockety” means “rickety”? 

Read this book – it will restore your faith in human nature.

Here’s the Story is published by Penguin/Sandycove @ £20

COMMENT OF THE WEEK

– TURN TO THE PARALEGALS

Looking to get back to work after the lockdown? In tough times the paralegal route offers a way forward, says AMANDA HAMILTON, NALP

Covid-19 has impacted us all hugely, including law firms and – by extension –  paralegals. Some have lost their jobs or had to close their practices.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are opportunities for younger lawyers who may have been affected and the role of paralegals will almost certainly change as we come out of lockdown.

Law firms are looking to get back into business and onto an even keel as swiftly as possible while also looking to cut costs. Additionally, certain types of work are likely to be more abundant than others in the immediate aftermath of lockdown. For example; commercial leases and contracts, tenancy agreements, contractual disputes, divorce and family law, probate, etc.

This is where outsourcing to a local licenced paralegal may solve the problem for law firms and provide opportunities for paralegals.

In essence, we’re moving towards a multi-layered system that gives the consumer access to legal help at a price and level appropriate to them and the issue they’re dealing with. For some, a paralegal is the perfect solution (for example, eviction or debt collection) and for others a solicitor (for example probate), for others a barrister.

If you’re a paralegal or junior solicitor who’s been unlucky enough to be made redundant during this times, or have had your contract terminated, why not consider taking advantage of the new situation and offering your paralegal services on a freelance basis?

This means that you could work for different organisations as a self-employed paralegal and be paid by the hour/day/week, as agreed.

The benefit to firms is that they can restart their business and get back on an even keel as quickly as possible while cutting costs. For you, the paralegal / unemployed junior solicitor, earning an hourly rate as a self-employed paralegal is better than sitting at home and waiting until everything get back to normal. It also helps your CV and to keep your hand in, gaining experience all the while.

Amanda Hamilton is Chief Executive of the National Association of Licenced Paralegals (NALP), a non-profit Membership Body and the only Paralegal body that is recognised as an awarding organisation by Ofqual (the regulator of qualifications in England). For more see: http://www.nationalparalegals.co.uk

WEBINARS OF THE WEEK

BROWN RUDNICK and MAGRATH SHELDRICK

Two crackers for you from Brown Rudnick for this week

Grabbing Opportunities: The Landscape for Investment
in European Hospitality 

This live webinar will focus on investments in the hospitality industry and will be relevant to all operational real estate investors into the UK and Europe. The expert panel (including Tuvi Keinan, Partner, Head of Special Situations & Real Estate Finance, Brown Rudnick and Pierpaolo Iasci, Managing Director, Société Générale will discuss topics including the current state of the market amid the pandemic; the recovery outlook ; grabbing opportunities out of distress: features of buying out of insolvency processes;  options for debt finance and organising the capital stack ;  how to find the right investment partners; how to get to the right price with uncertain revenues
Date: 09 September 2020 Time: 18:00-19:00 BST,13:00-14:00 EDT, 10:00-11:00 PDT Event password: BR2020
RSVP
Add to calendar
Join the event

BROWN RUDNICK’S ‘WOMEN IN BUSINESS ‘ SERIES

In Conversation with DEBORAH MEADEN (of Dragon’s Den’ fame).

Meet Deborah Meaden along with Beth Chilton and Sarah Sleightholm, founders of Hope & Ivy, one of the businesses that Deborah has successfully invested in through Dragon’s Den.

This Women in Business event is open to everyone interested in attending, as the discussion will be applicable to both men and women alike. 

RSVP
Add to calendar
Join the event

And from Magrath Sheldrick

Immigration 2021 Get Ready for Post-Brexit Immigration Compliance

Webinar: 10 September 2020 at 3pm

In this interactive session Ben Sheldrick and Joanne Taylor from Magrath Sheldrick LLP will explain the new legal and practical landscape that UK employers and workers from outside the new resident labour market can expect to see at the end of the Brexit transition period.

They will provide practical guidance on how to prepare, budget and get compliance ready for Britain’s new place in the world.

Kerry Hough will discuss how British citizens can plan to work in Europe in the future.

Register in advance for this webinar HERE

Hope that you have enjoyed this edition of the Legal Diary. Send in your future stories to fennell.edward@yahoo.com

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Thursday September 3 2020 Late Lunchtime publication Edition 24

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

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

I had plenty of things lined up to say about the legal world this week but in the light of the Secret Barrister’s withering attack on the press in their book published today (see below) I think I had better skulk off for a while to the shadows where I really belong.

More mistruths next week – but with a slightly earlier publication date of Tuesday.

The LegalDiarist

LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

Screw your news, says the Secret Barrister

Truth Alert

It’s a big day today for the legal publishing business with the release of the  Fake Law: The Truth About Justice in an Age of Lies the latest title (and sure to be best seller) from the Secret Barrister, the highly successful super-blogger.

His/her/their target this time is the waywardness of the press in reporting how the law is exercised in this country. The most damaging misrepresentations of the law in England and Wales by the media, according to The Secret Barrister, include: 

·        The length of sentences being handed down by judges to criminals 

·        Defending yourself in your own home against a burglar 

·        The cost of courts, legal aid and prosecution to England and Wales

·        The amount of compensation awarded to injured parties 

·        The amount awarded to employees at employment tribunals 

·        The decisions made by courts around children’s medical care  

·        The treatment of victims in court compared to the treatment of defendants

·        The Humans Rights Act 

·        The Supreme Court’s ruling about Parliamentary sovereignty in the Brexit ‘Miller’ cases

·        Using ‘rough sex’ as a defence when assault has resulted in injury or death

 As the SB’s publicity maestro points out, whilst almost three quarters of Brits (72%) think that judges are giving increasingly soft sentences to criminals, as reported by the media, the average length of custodial sentences imposed by the criminal courts has been increasing year-on-year for more than a decade (which probably accounts for why the jails are so over-crowded).

So rather than being the heroic upholders of free-speech who tell truth to power (as we hacks rather like to believe) journalists are really the purveyos of falsehoods acting for our own nefarious purposes. Who (as we say these days) knew?

Fake Law is published by Pan Macmillan

Une belle rentrée?

Keeping your distance in the Place de Voges

The Legaldiarist always enjoy the upbeat tone of the publicity messages which it receives from the Linklaters press office in Paris.

So as everyone (correction; some, a few, almost no-one) gets back to the office this week as part of the annual great ‘re-entry’ the firm chirruped out ‘Le cabinet Linklaters et Publicis Consultants vous souhaitent Une belle rentrée’, It was almost as if there was no Covid, or thousands of deaths let alone a suggestion of a fresh spike on the horizon. Instead it was a jolly ‘Nous espérons que vous avez passé de bonnes vacances’.

Plus, of course an invitation to take advantage of the firm’s experts in Private Equity, Arbitrage, Finance, Energie, Restructuring et M&A, Gouvernance, Propriété intellectuelle, Santé, Technologie et protection des données privées, Concurrence, Immobilier…’ Which in itself is a reminder that while the UK might be leaving the EU (definitively subject to another U-turn) this country’s legacy will remain in so much of the continent’s legal language.

Except, of course, legal English itself owes so much to French historically – with Law French continuing into the seventeenth century – that we can scarcely claim any rights to the Propriété intellectuelle. All we have added, maybe, is a little ‘je ne sais pas’.

PE a force for good?

Travers Smith has just announced the arrival of Simon Witney, as a senior consultant, in its private equity team. Nothing particularly unusual in that you might think. Except that is Witney has pretty exceptional credentials as a member of the Council of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association and previously chaired its Legal and Accounting Committee. He is also a past Chair of Invest Europe’s Tax, Legal and Regulatory Committee and a current member of its Professional Standards Committee and Financial Services-Regulatory Working Group.

So all highly gilded. But even more interesting in some respects was the mood music around the way the firm made the announcement. Over and beyond Witney’s personal track record are the comments about what the private equity business is looking for these days.

 “The private capital market is undergoing a significant change,” says Travers Smith’s Senior Partner Kathleen Russ.Prompted by the current economic outlook, many asset owners and asset managers are increasingly looking to adopt more diversified strategies for deploying their capital.  At the same time, private capital providers are becoming particularly focused on sustainable finance, responsible investment and stewardship. For some, this translates into impact investing.”

Meanwhile Simon Witney himself added, As business leaders and investors continue to embrace the inexorable move to more sustainable strategies and responsible business practices, I strongly believe that an active ownership model will thrive. In a world that increasingly expects business to play its part in creating a fairer and better society, private capital will be a force for good as economies recover from the COVID crisis.”

Let’s face it, private equity does not always enjoy a great reputation. You might even say that the arrival of PE ownership ins some sectors is the sure sign of the beginning of the end. So let’s hope that what Travers Smith says is true,

Rescue all at sea

Writing today for Huffpost UK, Nicola Burges (a lawyer and the legal director at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants), comments that “While there are people starving to death due to a broken immigration system, there will very much be a need for lawyers who are prepared to hold the government to account. Who here is trying to bend the laws? If these claims had been dealt with promptly and competently there would have been no need to settle these disputes in court. Litigation should be a last resort, but sadly in many cases, it has become inevitable.”

Surely one of the signs of a civilized society is that laws must be followed but there must also be scope for laws to be changed through a democratic process. Shortcuts and chicanery whether by government agencies or ‘activists’ are likely to bring the whole system crashing down.

Goal Line Decision

The future of two ‘storied’ football clubs have been hanging in the legal balance this week. On the one hand can top global club Barcelona use the law to thwart the departure of Lionel Messi? On the other could (the only slightly less distinguished) Charlton FC, now in the estimable third tier of English football, evade the clutches of a potential buyer Paul Elliott. who has already failed the English Football League’s owners and directors test.

Anyway, one of these two gripping stories has now been resolved. After an initial hearing in Manchester which went well into extra time, Judge Richard Pearce effectively gave Mr Elliott a red card. Organising the defence masterfully for Charlton was Daniel Gleek, Partner and Head of Dispute Resolution at Axiom Stone Solicitors, who pointed out that had the decision gone the other way, “The likely effect was that the Club would be unable by 12 September 2020 – the start date of the new English Football League season – to satisfy the EFL about its future funding and risk extremely serious sanctions being applied, including the possible expulsion from the League.”

So, much relief all round south east London. Maybe Barca should call in Mr Gleek to settle their little dispute?

Date Night?

Flying off with your data?

Data breaches have now become a commodity business for lawyers and this is no better illustrated than the rise of Hayes Connor Solicitors . Based in Widnes it embodies the way we both live and work now not least against a background of Covid which itself is likely to have an accelerating effect on data claims. As the firm comments “[We’re] at a really exciting time in the world of data breach and cyber security, when small value claims may become the pervasive force. Now, we are looking to the future with fresh eyes, and are ready to work on all claims, whether they’re worth £100,000 or £1,000.”

This reflects the way the firm is involved in a whole series of group action claims against organisations ranging from Easyjet and British Airways to Dixons and T-Mobile. Its plain speaking, get-to-the point approach will probably reassure its increasing number of clients who might be nervous of dealing with a traditional lawyer. Reflecting the firm’s growth it has just announced a number of staff and organisational changes in an equally no-nonsense way. “We’re more than excited to be rejigging our team; it’s a well overdue change, “ said Jon Else, the firm’s Shareholder Director. Not quite the kind of revelation I would expect to hear from Linklaters.

For more go to https://www.hayesconnor.co.uk/

Over the next few weeks The Legal Diary will be coming from Italy – but please do keep sending your news and comment to

fennell.edward@yahoo.com

Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Thursday August 27 2020 Late Lunchtime publication Edition 23

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

SHORT THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

– NOT ‘ALL TOGETHER’ IN THE NEW NORMAL

The return of schooling next week represents a kind of resumption of normality but we all appreciate that the new normal’ will be different from the old. When the scale of the pandemic was understood in the Spring the cries of ‘We’re all in it together’ gave some kind of hope. But that illusion was gradually stripped away as levels of mutual antipathy, suspicion, disillusion and sheer incompetence were exposed not just over the virus issue but in the fields of race, policing and the media.

Quite how the legal profession will be affected still remains to be seen. From the start law firms responded in widely different ways over partnership promotions, furloughing and recruitment of trainees. The impact on work levels has also been very varied. One can only hazard a guess about what the new normal for lawyers will be especially in the area of diversity. But what’s clear for sure is that law firms and lawyers will definitely not be ‘all in it together’.

The Legaldiarist

NOTE: From mid-September Edward Fennell’s Legal Diary will be coming from Italy for a month or so. Publication times and dates may vary. But please continue to send your news, stories and comment to fennell.edward@yahoo.com

In this week’s edition

+ THE DIARY OF THE WEEK

+ HOT TOPIC OF THE WEEK – Surprise tax effects arise from pension fund ‘buyout’

+ ARTWORKS WEBINAR OF THE WEEK = THIS EVENING ARTISTS@ LEGAL RIGHTS WITH JON SHARPLES (Simmons and Simmons)

DIARY OF THE WEEK

LOCKDOWN LEGAL?

Over a quarter of millions pounds has been contributed by more than 8,000 individuals to support the campaign for a judicial review into the legality of the C-virus lockdown measures led by Simon Dolan founder of the Keep Britain Free movement. The case will now proceed to a rolled-up hearing expected to be held at the Court of Appeal during the week commencing the 28th September to decide on whether the case should progress to a full Appeal.

Simon Dolan said, “The Government’s decision to unilaterally lockdown the United Kingdom marks the most serious imposition on personal freedoms in recent history. Already tens of thousands have been sentenced to death, millions of children have been deprived of an education, our economy has been left in ruins and we have experienced the largest fall in employment in over a decade.

 “Citizens in Leicester and Greater Manchester continue to be unlawfully stripped of their freedoms and liberties, and Birmingham could be the next city to be forced into a local lockdown. With the possibility of further restrictions looming over all our heads, it is only right that the Government is held to account and the legality of its actions questioned.”

Maybe only time will tell whether the lockdown has been justified in terms of saving lives – after all, similar powers were exercised by the authorities in the Great Plague of the 1660s – but it is surely right to determine whether or not the Government was acting within its powers.

Mr Dolan is represented by Michael Gardner of law firm Wedlake Bell LLP, Philip Havers QC, a barrister and Deputy High Court Judge who specialises in public law, and barrister Francis Hoar of Field Court Chambers. 

The news that Neil Gerrard, the Co-Head of white collar crime at Dechert, is to leave the firm at the end of the year will raise a cacophony of questions among those who have been following events in the Gulf and especially in the tiny kingdom of RAK. The activities of Mr Gerrard and his colleagues have been reported on extensively by both newspapers and the legal press so maybe it should be no surprise that the decision has been reached that now is the time to conclude what might be called a ‘colourful career’.

But what recent events have undoubtedly put the focus on is the wisdom of law firms becoming too closely embroiled in foreign governments’ own internal affairs and the functioning of their justice systems. Whatever their intentions, once they are on the payroll in that way, the pressures intensify on their professional independence and duties. Maybe better not put oneself to the test.

LEGAL SOFTWARE BULKS UP

The Legal Software Suppliers Association (LSSA) is not necessarily the best known feature on the legal landscape but, as technology plays an increasingly important part in legal processes, it warrants a higher profile not least because it provide a strong focus in establishing standards and cooperation between suppliers, professional bodies, and government organisations.

The more members the better, therefore , and the latest recruit is DigitalMove best known for its technological innovation to the conveyancing sector.

“We have joined the LSSA to work more closely with the country’s leading case management software providers, to enhance our integration offering and make the home moving experience less stressful for everyone involved,” said Tim Price, DigitalMove’s Head of Business Development.

Meanwhile Chair of the LSSA, Craig Matthews, commented: “We’re delighted to have DigitalMove as part of the LSSA. During this uncertain time the stability of the LSSA is helping secure and shape the UK’s legal technology industry for the benefit of law firms and consumers.”

With the house market now taking off once more this could be a good time for DigitalMove.

ITALY TOPS GDPR FINES TABLE

All that publicity in the UK a couple of years ago about the penalties of breaching GDPR regime seems to have paid off. When compiling the GDPR ‘naughtiness league’ from the Enforcement Tracker fines database, consultancy Finbold found that Britain did not even make it into the Top Ten for fines.

Not too surprisingly maybe it was the Italians who couldn’t keep a cap on their data followed, maybe oddly, by the Swedes (who, given also their approach to Covid seem to be drifting away from their traditional path of virtuousness).

So the top ten EU countries with the biggest total GDPR fines are:

RankCountryTotal Fines (€)No. Of Fines
1Italy45,609,00013
2Sweden7,031,8004
3Netherlands2,080,0003
4Spain1,952,81076
5Germany1,240,0001
6Norway742,0608
7Belgium717,0007
8Hungary299,3006
9Finland200,5004
10Ireland115,0002

Other key findings from this report include:

  • 60,181,250 is the total GDPR fine of EU countries, as of 2020
  • The most common GDPR violation is the insufficient legal basis for data processing
  • The country with the most GDPR violations is Spain, with 76 fines
  • Italy is the country with the biggest GDPR fine total at €45.6 million For more go to

ttps://finbold.com/gdpr-fines-2020/

HOT TOPIC OF THE WEEK

Surprise tax effects arise from pension fund ‘buyout’

Pensions law is almost always very complicated and now a warning is being given by tax experts that pension fund trustees need to be aware of the buyout tax effects on their scheme members.

Vikki Massarano, a partner at Arc Pesnsions Law, highlights interpretation of tax law that could mean certain scheme members might be hit by unexpected tax charges on buyout.

“Pensioners with fixed protection risk losing that protection if their scheme buys out benefits when they have other pensions that aren’t yet in payment because of a peculiarity in the legislation,” she says. “Deferred members and other forms of pensioner protection are not affected in the same way.”

Moving to buy out is usually seen as a good thing for members, so trustees and employers will be keen to continue this where possible – but without triggering unexpected tax consequences for members. “Despite lobbying, there does not seem to be a change in the law to prevent this anomaly happening any time soon so trustees, employers and insurers are looking at new processes so that buy out activity can continue,” explains Ms. Massarano. This involves a two-stage process rather than the previously common one step conversion of buy in to buy out.

Trustees need to identify which members could be affected so that the risks and potential mitigations are explained. Pensioners with a small benefit in one scheme could have significant undrawn benefits in another scheme so it is not possible to limit the investigation to those with high benefits. And members who start to take their pension before buy out can also be caught, so the net needs to be spread even more widely.

Trustees need to be aware of this issue, emphasises Ms. Massarano, so they can make sure it is properly factored into their planning and timeline when aiming for ‘buy out’.

For more contact vikki.massarano@arcpensionslaw.com

ARTWORK ‘WEBINAR OF THE WEEK’

ARTISTS’ LEGAL RIGHTS – BOOK NOW FOR TONIGHT

This evening the third in a series of webinar discussions on the theme of artists’ legal rights will be hosted at 6.30-8.00 by Jon Sharples, an IP law consultant with Simmons and Simmons. Jon is well-known on the London and Liverpool art scene through his involvement as a trustee with Block 336 (the artist-run project space and gallery) and the Liverpool Biennial.

Aimed at both artists and  arts and legal professionals who are interested in matters of  artists’ copyright, tonight’s session will deal with topics such as appropriation vs. plagiarism, fair dealing and fair use, inspiration vs. copying, and what it takes to get legal proceedings going.

Also participating in the discussion will be London-based artist Haroon Mirza together with with Azmina Jasani Partner at Constantine Cannon and leading art lawyer, and David Stone, Global Head of IP at Allen & Overy and also a Deputy High Court IP Judge).

Alongside these talks which started in June, Block 336 is also collating information about available resources, advice clinics and law firms with pro bono offerings. Originally intended to be hosted at the gallery, the series fell victim to the C-virus and is is now being presented via Zoom.

For more go to

To register for this free event go NOW to

Artists’ Legal Rights Sessions: Copyright: Infringement

Please continue to send your stories and insights to fennell.edward@yahoo.com

And back again next week – before an escape to Italy