18 January 1999

The Lawyer

  • A battalion of sorrows

    18-Jan-1999

    Spare a thought for the Director of Public Prosecutions. The image of his service is in tatters and morale is at an all-time low. Now, faced with the Herculean task of implementing reform, half his chief crown prosecutors have quit. Surely things can only get better. Robert Mendick reports.David Calvert-Smith admits to suffering sleepless nights as he attempts to reorganise the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for the third time in its short history.

  • A system in disrepair

    18-Jan-1999

    IN ITS drive to stand out from the crowd, one firm of solicitors is using a new marketing strategy. According to Manchester City Council, the firm employs a man to sit under an umbrella by various pubs in the city’s Newton Heath area. He holds a board covered in pictures of council houses in disrepair. And on each picture is a price tag showing how much compensation the damage is worth. The man takes the names and addresses of potential clients and then passes them on to the firm.

  • A terrier from Yorkshire

    18-Jan-1999

    Leigh, Day & Co senior partner Martyn Day originally thought the compensation claims of Japanese prisoners of war (PoW) was an "old fogeys" issue. Now he is on the verge of persuading the UK government into action which would force Japan into an embarrassing backtrack.Day changed his mind after a visit almost six years ago from his uncle, Jack Gott, a Japanese PoW whose experiences in Singapore between 1942 and 1945 are still not discussed in Day's family. Gott asked ...

  • Andrew Price, Newcastle United's director of legal affairs and company secretary, is returning to the Leeds practice of Dibb Lupton Alsop as a partner in the corporate group

    18-Jan-1999

    Andrew Price, Newcastle United's director of legal affairs and company secretary, is returning to the Leeds practice of Dibb Lupton Alsop as a partner in the corporate group. Price will continue to deal with Newcastle United's legal work.Catherine Ghosh is leaving her post as director of mergers and acquisitions at KPMG to join Bird & Bird as a partner in the firm's ...

  • BA pilots in damages claim

    18-Jan-1999

    The British Airlines Pilots Association faces a High Court damages claim for alleged breach of contract following British Airways' takeover of Dan Air in 1992. Pilot Martin Greathurst's action, on behalf of himself and other pilots, who were members of an organisation formed after the take-over along with former Dan Air pilots are claiming, among other things, damages for alleged breach of terms of a memo of agreement and merger procedure adopted in 1982. ...

  • Bakers to rival Clifford Chance in Dusseldorf

    18-Jan-1999

    Baker & McKenzie is to open a new office in Germany to accommodate a rapidly expanding market.The office will open in Dusseldorf on 1 April and will be the firm's fourth office in Germany's regionalised market and its 60th worldwide.Baker & McKenzie's objective is to fight its way back up the ratings. In the past 10 years, the firm has fallen from sixth ...

  • Bar Council prepares to fight for compulsory subscriptions

    18-Jan-1999

    The Bar Council is requesting an amendment to the Access to Justice Bill, making subscriptions to the body compulsory.Raising membership from 90 to 100 per cent will have obvious economic advantages and will strengthen the institution generally, says the Bar.However, it faces stiff opposition, particularly from the employed and non-practising Bar, of whom there are more than 9,000 members.Chairwoman of the Bar Association for Commerce, Finance & Industry ...

  • Block LPCs planned for law colleges

    18-Jan-1999

    The College of Law is planning to abandon its part-time Legal Practice Course (LPC) at two sites in favour of a block learning system.The course, which runs one weekend a month over two years at the same cost as a part-time course, will be implemented at the College of Law's Chester and York institutes subject to final approval by the LPC board at the Law Society, expected in February.Maurice Cook, director of external affairs at De Montfort University, ...

  • Britain's judges are the toughest in Europe, says report

    18-Jan-1999

    The Home Office is being called upon to review sentencing policy following a report which shows Britain's judges are the most severe in Europe.The report issued by the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO) shows English and Scottish judges favour longer jail terms than their counterparts from other European countries, with Denmark and the Netherlands proving the most lenient.US judges handed out the harshest sentences.

  • British Telecom

    18-Jan-1999

    British Telecom has one of the FTSE100’s largest and most dynamic in-house legal functions. The team comprises around 100 lawyers with diverse specialisms tailored towards serving a fiercely competitive international market.

  • Building soc loses home income plan claim case

    18-Jan-1999

    An attempt by the West Bromwich Building Society to claim compensation for losses that it incurred by the mis-selling of Home Income Plans has failed.The building society, alongside other financial institutions in the 1980s, promoted and provided mortgage advances as part of the Home Income Plan that was sold by independent financial advisers (IFA).However, while the Investors Compensation Scheme (ICA) and individuals attempted to recover losses from the West ...

  • Burn to join College of Law

    18-Jan-1999

    One of the country's leading experts on Lord Woolf's civil justice reforms is joining the College of Law to train lawyers before the reforms take hold in April.Suzanne Burn must squeeze in her new role as senior consultant when she joins the college in March, between writing a book and fulfilling her duties as a deputy district judge and a London Ambulance Trust director.Burn, who is currently the secretary to the Law Society's civil litigation ...

  • Carter-Ruck fees success

    18-Jan-1999

    LIBEL firm Peter Carter-Ruck's no win-no fee scheme has got off to a flying start. The firm won an apology and "substantial" damages from The Sun over a story that referred to noises from the constituency flat of Labour MP for Peterborough, Helen Brinton. The Sun admitted its story could have been read as references to sexual activity.The Guardian

  • City firms cash in on £3.75 bn issue

    18-Jan-1999

    A landmark bond issue could set important precedents, say City lawyers.London & Continental Railways (LCR) is issuing the bond this month to finance the Folkestone to Fawkham section of the Channel Tunnel rail link.In an unprecedented move, the Government has guaranteed the issue for up to £3.75bn. The first tranche will be for £1bn-plus, making it the largest ever sterling Eurobond issue, the biggest UK rail development this century and the biggest ...

  • City merger collapses as partners stage rebellion

    18-Jan-1999

    The proposed merger of Richards Butler and Theodore Goddard broke down due to objections by Theodore Goddard partners, it is claimed.The merger would have created the 12th largest City firm in terms of fee earners.Peter Kavanagh, managing partner of Richards Butler, says certain partners raised objections to the proposed merger when it was discussed last Monday and says management agreed with the objections. Corporate and finance partners especially did not think ...

  • Cleaning up on money laundering

    18-Jan-1999

    John Rhodes, MacfarlanesBrian Spiro, Simons Muirhead & BurtonClare Montgomery QC, 3 Raymond BuildingsCity lawyers who were caught napping over the latest developments in the battle against international tax evasion, could find themselves inadvertently heading for jail.The UK's money laundering regulations - and the tough reporting ...

  • Clifford Chance ties the knot in Bangkok

    18-Jan-1999

    The prospect of international investors seeking corporate bargains in South East Asia, as the financial crisis eases, has prompted the merger of Clifford Chance's Thailand office and leading Thai firm Wirot International.The new firm, Clifford Chance Wirot, will have 29 lawyers, including four from KPMG Peat Marwick, and comes after eight months of what Wirot partner Khun Wirot ...

  • Counting on the junior bar

    18-Jan-1999

    Many solicitors are hard-pressed to name a junior banking barrister they have used recently. Work, they say, is increasingly being carried out in-house, at the expense of the junior bar.Once again, 3 Verulam Buildings stands out for its strength in this field. Adrian Beltrami is "extremely good", Richard de Lacy "knows what he is talking about", John Odgers is "highly technical" and Jonathan Harold Marks "doesn't waffle, doesn't waste time and deals with the issues ...

  • Crash! Bang! Gazump!

    18-Jan-1999

    I AM troubled on two counts by the report in last week's edition of The Lawyer at the inability of Solicitors' Property Centre Network Services to obtain suitable premises because they had been gazumped. It is not at all uncommon when acting for certain clients to keep their identity secret, because to make it known would have a possible adverse effect on any negotiations for property acquisition, and to achieve the acquisition through a nominee.The second ...

  • Criminal gets euro fine first

    18-Jan-1999

    THE lawyer representing a French criminal who received the world's first ever fine in euro, had to check the exchange rate in a newspaper to find out that 4,500 euro is equivalent to 29,518 francs.The Sun

  • Crown Prosecution Service plan faces four-year delay

    18-Jan-1999

    It could take up to four years for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to install a standardised IT system, it has been revealed.The CPS has opted for a private finance initiative (PFI) contract to pay for any future deal, but bids will not be invited for several months.The choice of a PFI deal goes directly against recommendations in the Glidewell Report, released in June 1998, into the workings of the CPS.The report concluded it was "sceptical" ...

  • Dibbs partner quits to join Linklaters

    18-Jan-1999

    The steady stream of Dibb Lupton Alsop partners leaving the firm in last few months has continued, with the move by banking partner Gideon Moore to Linklaters & Paines.Linklaters banking partner Doulla Stavrou says Moore "saw the opportunity" and approached Linklaters, which was keen to expand its banking practice.Banking head Haydn Puleston Jones was "delighted" that Moore would ...

  • Dibbs' saint turns sinner

    18-Jan-1999

    When Paul Rhodes quit as Dibb Lupton Broomhead's managing partner, his colleagues speculated he was through with legal practice. But the man who did much to pioneer Dibbs' rottweiler image is back - and he has gone to the aid of its arch-rival. By John Paul Flintoff

  • Digest

    18-Jan-1999

    ONE of England's most senior judges, Vice-Chancellor Sir Richard Scott, has played to the gallery by calling for the abolition of wigs. Sir Scott says judges who wear wigs look out of touch, "antiquated and foolish" and are like "diehards who still wear top hats in the hunting field" out of a "hankering for the past and tribal badges of status". Judges who revere their head gear are like those who ask who Gazza is, he adds. Lord Irvine of Lairg once complained his wig "weighs a ...

  • Downe Hall battle continues

    18-Jan-1999

    The Law Lords are considering whether to allow the battle over the development of Downe Hall to go to a full House of Lords appeal. The case focuses on the rights of local authorities to weigh the practical advantages of development against listed building policies when deciding whether to allow schemes to go ahead. So far the High Court and the appeal court have upheld planning consent granted by West Dorset District Council for development at Downe Hall, a listed building inside ...

  • Euro law firms form millenium bug net

    18-Jan-1999

    Herbert Smith is spearheading a network of European law firms to exchange advice on the implications of the "millennium bug".The Pan-European Advice Network for Year 2000 (PLAN Year 2000) comprises 15 firms with expertise in information technology law, insurance law and cross-border litigation.The network has been set up to deal with disputes arising from computer system failures when the new millennium begins. Firms will share information in the run-up to 2000 ...

  • Exactly whose law is it anyway?

    18-Jan-1999

    The second reading of the Access to Justice Bill in the House of Lords saw the legal establishment out in full strength. No wonder the issue of consumer interest in the justice system so often takes a back seat when lawyers dominate parliamentary debate.Too few non-lawyers spoke in the debate and most of those who did were suspiciously uncritical. Along with welcome changes, there are potential problems with the proposals that badly need objective scrutiny. For example, ...

  • Ex-family law chief joins Addleshaw Booth & Co

    18-Jan-1999

    The former president of the Solicitors Family Law Association (SFLA) is joining the current chairman at Addleshaw Booth & Co in a significant "merger" of family law expertise.Nigel Shepherd, past SFLA chairman and national head of Berrymans Lace Mawer's family law department, is leaving the firm's Manchester office after five and a half years and is taking his team with ...

  • Firms advise City clients to sack staff

    18-Jan-1999

    Employment lawyers are sparking a spate of dismissals, primarily in the City, as they advise clients to sack staff - sooner rather than later - before the Fairness at Work Bill comes in later this year.Employment solicitors say dismissals have been increasing since late last year as a result of the impending legislation. Following consultation on the Fairness at Work white paper, the Government indicated in December that the Bill would raise the cap on compensation in unfair ...

  • Firms eye up millennium bug litigation

    18-Jan-1999

    Almost one in three of the UK's biggest companies are prepared to sue IT suppliers if they suffer problems because of the millennium bug.A survey reveals a "significant" number of the top 1,000 firms are behind schedule in ironing out the potentially crippling bug and are preparing to litigate if systems fail.Dibb Lupton Alsop, alongside the campaign group Taskforce 2000, carried out the survey, released tomorrow.Julian Stait, who heads up a ...

  • Five of the best

    18-Jan-1999

    Jonathan Nash 3 Verulam BuildingsCalled to the Bar: 1986Professional achievements/associations:Member of Combar and of the European Society for Banking and Financial Law.Areas of practice:All aspects of banking operations; financial services; insolvency; professional negligence; insurance; commercial fraud; arbitration.Recent reported cases:Target Home Loans v Redferns (1998); Barclays Bank v Weeks Legg ...

  • Flotations & Financing

    18-Jan-1999

    A Norton Rose team advised Chase Manhattan and CIBC Wood Gundy in relation to £215m financing of Dolphin Telecommunications. The team was led by banking partner Michael Ings. Linklaters' partner Jeremy Stokeld acted on behalf of Dolphin.

  • FO hands over PoW case

    18-Jan-1999

    The Foreign Office (FO) has referred the decision about whether the UK should make a claim against Japan to compensate former prisoners of war (PoWs) to the Government's most senior lawyers, the Attorney General and Solicitor General.Leigh Day & Co senior partner Martyn Day, acting for the ex-PoWs, wants the FO to seek independent legal advice on whether the UK should claim to compensate 10,000 ex-PoWs and civilian internees under article 26 of the 1951 Peace Treaty ...

  • Freshfields retains top position in M&A league

    18-Jan-1999

    Freshfields has retained its position at the top of the mergers and acquisitions league table for 1998.In 1997, the firm worked on 72 deals worth £45.7bn. This figure has almost doubled with the firm completing 80 deals totalling £86.4bn.Freshfields' reputation for acting on mega-mergers was boosted last year after it advised on deals such as Scottish Power's £4.2bn takeover of US generator Pacificorps and the largest ever pharmaceuticals ...

  • Ian Bell

    18-Jan-1999

    Ian Bell was there for the first deals of the fledgling European asset securitisation market. Now New York credit analyser Standard & Poor's has snatched him up with a specially-created post. Sean Farrell reports.

  • In brief: Cameron McKenna

    18-Jan-1999

    Cameron McKenna says UK businesses trading with Central and Eastern European companies are being threatened by the region's failure to take effective action over the Millennium Bug. A survey by the firm found that nearly two thirds of respondents had no strategy for dealing with the computer bug and 87 per cent had received no guidance from their government or regulatory bodies.

  • In brief: Clifford Chance

    18-Jan-1999

    Clifford Chance has advised the Post Office on the acquisition of delivery service German Parcel Paket-Logistik GmbH, based in Neuenstein, Germany. The deal required the simultaneous cross-border acquisition of nearly 30 franchisee companies, which operated local depots, from 25 groups of sellers. A team of over 20 from Clifford Chance's German office was assisted by the firm's London ...

  • In brief: It was bad news for Mick

    18-Jan-1999

    It was bad news for Mick, but good news for Jerry's lawyer, the high-profile Sandra Davis.Supermodel Jerry Hall, who filed for divorce from her adulterous Rolling Stone husband Mick Jagger, has appointed Davis at niche media law specialists Mishcon de Reya as her legal representative. Davis, who has also handled the divorce of Princess Diana among others, specialises in "high-value" ...

  • In brief: Lord Denning

    18-Jan-1999

    Lord Denning celebrates his 100th birthday on Saturday and to mark the occasion the University of Buckingham is hosting a symposium arranged by the law school and the Denning Law Journal. Says Lord Denning: "I am delighted that such an impressive array of lawyers are assembling on my 100th birthday. I only wish I could be there myself but I am too decrepit to travel now." Guests include master of the Rolls Lord Woolf and Vice-Chancellor Sir Richard Scott.

  • In brief: Perry Lee

    18-Jan-1999

    Perry Lee, a final year law student, is taking a Liverpool law firm to industrial tribunal on the grounds he was racially discriminated against when passed over for a job. Lee, who was born in Liverpool, but whose parents are Chinese, is backed by the Commission for Racial Equality, which says law firm Morecroft Urquhart has no ethnic minority lawyers among its staff. It is thought Morecroft will counter that Lee, aged 45, was too old to be trained.

  • In brief: Philip Ridd

    18-Jan-1999

    Philip Ridd is to be the next solicitor to the board of Inland Revenue. His appointment, approved by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will take effect from September when Brian Cleave retires. Ridd, a principal assistant solicitor, is currently on loan to the Northern Ireland Office as solicitor to the Bloody Sunday inquiry.

  • In brief: Reynolds Porter Chamberlain

    18-Jan-1999

    Reynolds Porter Chamberlain says a recent ruling by the Court of Appeal will stop parties unconnected with a court case from undertaking fishing expeditions through previously publicly unavailable documents. In response to an application by insurance firm FAI, who wanted to inspect a wide range of documents even though they were not part of the case in question, the court said only ...

  • In brief: The Legal Action Group

    18-Jan-1999

    The Legal Action Group has appointed a new chief executive. Andrew Heywood will assume overall responsibility for the group. Heywood established the Law Society's eastern regional office before moving on to direct professional developmental courses at the College of Law. He worked with the Labour Party in the 1980s, developing campaigns.

  • In brief: Titmuss Sainer Dechert

    18-Jan-1999

    Titmuss Sainer Dechert, a leading London property firm, has taken the unusual move of appointing a legal executive to head up its planning department. The highly-rated Jason True takes over responsibility from Graham McGowan who will continue at the firm as head of the public sector unit. The planning department’s clients include Dixons, Fairview New Homes, Royal & Sun Alliance and Sears.

  • Increase in pension litigation

    18-Jan-1999

    Legal changes that impose tighter regulation on the pensions industry have led to a major increase in pension scheme litigation, claims a leading lawyer in the field.The appointment of a Pensions Ombudsman in 1990 and the introduction of the Pensions Act in 1995 were intended to redress the balance between pension fund management companies and pensioner holders, says Dibb Lupton Alsop pensions litigation partner Janet Legrand.She says: "Our experience is that ...

  • Irvine's power is risk to human rights, says Lords

    18-Jan-1999

    A House of Lords select committee has warned that the Lord Chancellor's "almost untrammelled power" to give directions under the Access to Justice Bill may breach the Human Rights Act.The select committee's report on delegated powers and deregulation says the Lord Chancellor's powers regarding the Legal Services Commission under the Bill, are "of considerable concern".Committee member Lord Goodhart QC tells The Lawyer: "This is effectively a power ...

  • Judges reject sentencing rules

    18-Jan-1999

    Judges are ignoring rules that cut defendants' jail terms for early guilty pleas, it has been revealed to The Lawyer.The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) says that, according to anecdotal evidence, some judges are failing to use the powers, which date back to the 1994 Criminal Justice Act.As a result, it says that defence lawyers are rarely advising clients to plead guilty at early hearings. Acpo is calling for a review of the system to ensure ...

  • Judging a book by its cover

    18-Jan-1999

    SEAN Brierley (City Lawyer last week) is right to remind us that a colourful new brand is no substitute for a good reputation grounded on giving a great service to existing clients. Any firms that have forgotten this are in real trouble. Similarly, over-obsessiveness about mentions in the legal press is an ailment that affects many partners that he rightly picks up.However, the day-to-day reality is that law firms spend large amounts on events, newsletters ...

  • LAB's funding code confirms legal aid rationing fears

    18-Jan-1999

    A Legal Aid Board (LAB) consultation paper has confirmed fears, revealed in The Lawyer in December, that the Government's proposals to cap the legal aid budget will mean those who cannot afford to fund their own cases will be denied access to justice.The Funding Code says that legal aid should only be forthcoming if "a prudent person" would risk their own money on the case.It says no funding should be available where damages are much higher than costs, and ...

  • Laptop computers to be allowed in prisons

    18-Jan-1999

    The Prison Service is changing its policy to allow legal advisers to bring laptop computers when visiting clients in prison.The new practice will have immediate effect and will apply to all but 13 of the country's 137 prisons.Many lawyers will be relieved that the Prison Service is finally taking account of developing technology, especially since computers have been permitted to prisoners for some time.However, prison rules, which do not currently ...

  • Law Society inquiry clears Regis team five of impropriety

    18-Jan-1999

    A complaint brought against five members of the Law Society's Regis computer project management team by the British Legal Association (BLA) has ended with a finding of no impropriety.An investigation undertaken by the Compliance and Supervision Committee was concluded in October, exonerating former senior Law Society officials including the then secretary general John Hayes and John Randall, previously director of professional standards and development.However, ...

  • Law Society probes Oxford United chief

    18-Jan-1999

    The managing director of struggling football club Oxford United is being investigated by the Law Society.The investigation is believed to centre on the disastrous land deal which has left the football club with a half-built stadium on the edge of the city and debts of £13m.Managing director Keith Cox came in for criticism after it emerged London law firm Cox Clitheroe, of which he is a partner, was paid more than £235,000 in fees in one year for the ...

  • Limiting FSA delays

    18-Jan-1999

    Alan Magnus is leading a team at DJ Freeman which is advising Partnership Incorporations on the setting up of the Lend Lease Retail Partnership - a limited partnership for institutional investors.It is believed that this will be the biggest property limited partnership so far in the UK. The partnership is expected to be launched by the end of the month and will have approximately £500m of assets under its management.Magnus says: "Partnership Incorporations ...

  • Lipstick wearing gorillas

    18-Jan-1999

    SEAN Brierley's comments in City Lawyer last week are fundamentally flawed. As a design agency that specialises in professional services, our input into our clients' business is increasingly valued and understood.Slick graphics and communication are counterproductive to businesses that cannot deliver what they promise - a cursory glance at the banking sector is instructive. The word delivery is important. It touches on all areas of business and the legal profession ...

  • Litigation Personal Injury 18/1/99

    18-Jan-1999

    Conneely v Redbridge & Waltham Forest Health Authority (1999) QBD (Burton J) 11 January 1999Plaintiff: Male, new-born at date of accident; 6 years old at date of trial.Incident: Medical negligence Injuries: The plaintiff suffered brain damage and cerebral palsy as a result of the alleged negligence of the hospital staff overseeing his delivery. Medical evidence stated that the plaintiff would be permanently and significantly disabled.Award: u1.8m ...

  • Litigation Writs 18/1/99

    18-Jan-1999

    DTZ Debenham Thorpe is being sued for damages of more than u200,000 in a dispute over a property valuation. Culver Holdings is seeking damages of u208,889.34 in respect of a valuation of property in Cardiff. The dispute centres around a deal under which DTZ was called in to analyse leases, assess lease arrangements and inspect properties after Culver, which ran financial services and motor distribution businesses in South Wales, decided to demerge its businesses ...

  • Lowry release doubtful

    18-Jan-1999

    The Portuguese legal representative of imprisoned British lawyer Professor David Lowry believes the odds are against him being released, despite widespread protest over his arrest.Lowry's fraud trial, described by UK lawyers as "a very serious potential miscarriage of justice", ended in Lisbon's Boa Hora court last week with addresses by the prosecution, defence lawyer Dr Nuno Matos and Lowry himself.But when asked about Lowry's chance of release, ...

  • Mayer Brown puts UK partner at helm

    18-Jan-1999

    Banking specialist Ian Coles has been appointed "partner-in-charge" of Mayer Brown & Platt's London office.He is believed to be only the second non-American partner to head the London office of a US firm.Coles was one of the first British lawyers to work for a US law firm when he joined Mayer Brown & Platt's New York office in 1981.He moved to London in ...

  • Mortgage solicitors face liability ruling

    18-Jan-1999

    A Judgement by the Court of Appeal, expected in the next month, will throw new light on the liability of solicitors who police fraudulent activity when handling mortgage transactions.The High Court dismissed the claim of Midland Bank made two years ago in which it had accused Midlands practice Cox McQueen of breaches of contract, retainer and warranty.The case centred on a mortgage transaction in which Cox McQueen acted for the bank and in which a wife's ...

  • Muck flies in design rights appeal

    18-Jan-1999

    A dispute over unregistered design rights in the Court of Appeal has broken new ground in intellectual property law.The machine at the centre of the dispute is a slurry separator, designed to displace the dung heap and the muck-spreader from the English rural landscape.In March 1997, Farmers Build, which marketed the separator, claimed that Carier Bulk Materials Handling had infringed its design rights.Mr Justice Rattee, while ...

  • Not a question of ethics

    18-Jan-1999

    'Is a lawyer worth that much?' the nation asked last week when a US firm offered u1m for a UK partner. Is a footballer worth a u100,000 a week or a movie star $20m a picture?The simple answer is if a firm wants to pay it, it is no one else's business. It's not as if the money comes out of legal aid. The stream of US firms coming into the UK offering mega-bucks could pose a huge problem to home-grown firms which cannot compete on the wages front ...

  • Partners call in Fraud Squad

    18-Jan-1999

    The Fraud Squad is investigating a legal executive who worked with a Plymouth firm of solicitors.Malcolm Stewart, who worked in the wills, trusts and probate department of Foot & Bowden's Derry's Cross office, was arrested on 1 December. He is on bail, pending further investigations.Stewart, of Tavistock, had worked for the firm for around 20 years. He was sacked on the day of his arrest.Foot & Bowden called in the Fraud Squad to investigate ...

  • Peers plan attack on reforms

    18-Jan-1999

    Peers from across the political spectrum are planning attacks on the Access to Justice Bill when it reaches the committee stage this week.More than 200 amendments are being proposed from opponents and sympathisers alike, as the Lords debate the Access to Justice Bill for four days over the next fortnight.At the forefront of concerns is what is widely seen as Lord Irvine's misguided attempt to extend the Lord Chancellor's power into unacceptable areas, ...

  • Press fails in court reports

    18-Jan-1999

    Because of shifting news values and cutbacks to editorial budgets, the press is failing to cover key civil and criminal court cases. Cases reflecting societal inequalities, corruption and injustice are going unreported.While every national newspaper last month carried the prosecution of It girl Tara Palmer-Tomkinson for speeding, cases revealing police corruption, pension fraud and local authority incompetency routinely fall through the net. The result is that criminals ...

  • Prison for pensioners

    18-Jan-1999

    SO many British offenders are serving life sentences (currently 4,000) that the Home Office is converting the wing of Kingston jail, Portsmouth, into a retirement home for elderly inmates.Prison Reform Trust director, Stephen Shaw, warned last week that a trend towards long criminal "careers" and longer sentences was making for more aged prisoners - the oldest male prisoner in England and Wales is 87 years old.The Times

  • Pro bono group lands cash boost

    18-Jan-1999

    The Solicitors Pro Bono Group has landed a £90,000 grant from the Law Society's Charitable Fund. The grant - one of around £200,000-worth of cash awards handed out to good causes every year - will be spread across two years.A Law Society spokes-man says: "The group is doing very good work which needs to continue. We are committed to the development of pro bono work and the promotion of work done."Barristers, he says, enjoy an enormous amount ...

  • Report signs SIF death warrant

    18-Jan-1999

    The Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF) is facing abolition in the light of a planned introduction of a master policy of insurance to run alongside an open market scheme.The master policy means the Law Society would buy personal indemnity from commercial insurers to cover the legal profession, as opposed to the current mutual fund.The option is covered in a supplementary report drawn up by insurance consultancy Aon Risk Services that examines the viability of a mutual ...

  • Richard Cook on the court's reluctance to strike out claims

    18-Jan-1999

    Richard Cook is a partner at Shoosmiths & Harrison.A CASE decided more than 150 years ago has recently come into vogue in the civil courts, altering the inherent reluctance of courts to strike out claims.The 1843 case of Henderson v Henderson decided that where a given matter becomes the subject of litigation, the court requires the parties to that litigation to bring ...

  • Seeking out the best silks

    18-Jan-1999

    One particular set of chambers that is consistently recommended for banking barristers, both at senior and junior level is 3 Verulam Buildings. Among its silks, William Blair QC is described as a "very conscientious" barrister who gives "definite advice". John Jarvis QC is said to have "a wealth of experience that sets him apart" and Richard Salter QC is highly regarded by many.Fountain Court is also strong in the field, with head of chambers Peter Scott QC described as ...

  • Set-jumping trend gains impetus as 11 move chambers

    18-Jan-1999

    The New Year has witnessed an unusual amount of movement at the Bar, especially at senior level.The most recent shift has seen five silks and six juniors changing addresses in the last two weeks.Geraldine Clark, who has accepted a tenancy at 4-5 Gray's Inn Square, says she has left because of clerking and management issues at her former set, 20 Essex Street.She says: "I felt unable to support chambers' collective toleration of discrepancies ...

  • SIF saga seeks a happy end, or an end at least

    18-Jan-1999

    If it wasn't so expensive, solicitors would find the entire SIF saga hilarious. The latest twist is that the profession will revert to the master policy system abandoned in 1987.Firms are entitled to ask whether anyone in the "new improved" Chancery Lane has a coherent solution to the crisis. Last year a four-month consultation asked the profession to choose between SIF and the open market. The master policy received little support in firms' responses.

  • So, you want to be a millionaire

    18-Jan-1999

    Money makes the world go round, or so the saying goes. In the week that a mystery US firm offered a staggering £1m-plus remuneration package to lure partners to its London office, an exclusive survey by The Lawyer and recruitment specialists QD Legal revealed that just over a third of private practice lawyers in the UK (37 per cent) consider money as the biggest motivational factor in deciding whether to change jobs. This is a surprisingly low percentage considering the popular ...

  • Square Mile

    18-Jan-1999

    The days when lawyers could quietly concentrate on client matters are long gone. The profession is now, more than ever before, facing intense scrutiny by an increasingly cynical public and an ever-critical press.This is as true for City firms as it is for rest of the profession. With a number of firms reported to be under investigation over money laundering and links to organised crime and censured in the press over excessive fees and £1m salaries, the ...

  • Survey shows money is main motivator

    18-Jan-1999

    Sexist and money mad - a common charge against lawyers, but this time they are saying it about themselves.A survey by The Lawyer and QD Group involving 209 lawyers, reveals money tops the poll as the most important factor when considering a job change for both private practice lawyers (37 per cent) and in-housers (55 per cent). Promotion prospects came close for both at 33 per cent and 44 per cent respectively.There is a big disparity between the sexes in how ...

  • Tardy ambulance crew to face Law Lords

    18-Jan-1999

    If successful, a case against the London Ambulance Service could pave the way for a flood of litigation, says Roger PearsonTHE ACCOUNTABILITY of the ambulance service will be brought into focus in a High Court action scheduled for February.The Court of Appeal has ruled that London Ambulance Service must face a massive damages claim by a woman who accuses it of failing to respond promptly to an emergency call.Asthma sufferer Tracey ...

  • The Firm

    18-Jan-1999

    Memo

  • The Lawyer Inquiry: Penny Elliot

    18-Jan-1999

    Penny Elliott was born in Sheffield in 1955. She is a partner at Withers.What was your first job?A trainee wine merchant with Averys of Bristol.What was your first ever salary as a lawyer?u2,500.What would you have done if you hadn't been a lawyer?Been a lady of leisure.What was your most satisfying professional moment?When I became ...

  • Tough talk on a tender issue

    18-Jan-1999

    After the trials and tribulations of compulsory competitive tendering (CCT), the more user-friendly - and accountant friendly - phrase of "best value" will be the mantra for the next millennium in local government circles.The Local Government Bill is currently going through Parliament and it is envisaged that the Act will start to be phased in from 1 April 2000. In addition to abolishing CCT and replacing it with best value, the new Act will also replace the existing powers ...

  • UK lawyers in UN mission

    18-Jan-1999

    Senior British lawyers have been training UN prosecutors acting in the International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.A delegation, led by Justice Hooper and including the 1998 Bar chairman Heather Hallett QC, was in the Hague over the weekend to improve the advocacy techniques of the international prosecution team.Hallett, who was one of six Queen's Counsel in the group, says: "We are privileged to be asked to help the court in this way. It ...

  • University challenger

    18-Jan-1999

    RETIRED North London local government solicitor Lance Haward, 62, knows no fear - not even when confronted by Jeremy Paxman. His replies came so fast during last week's episode of University Challenge, that a flabbergasted Paxman tripped over his words, spluttering "Blimey!"Haward says the thrill of quiz shows is "gladiatorial" and has already notched up appearances on Brain of Britain, The Krypton Factor, Mastermind and Fifteen-to-One. He says one reason he signed ...

  • US has judges of dread

    18-Jan-1999

    US JUDGES hand down the stiffest sentences, followed by English, Belgian, Scottish and then Slovakian judges, finds a report by the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders. Danish and Dutch judges give the shortest sentences.The Times

  • Wallpaper row on a roll

    18-Jan-1999

    THE infamous wallpaper debacle rolls on. Last year, the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine came under fire for his "Cardinal Wolsey lifestyle", when he lashed out u300 per roll on wallpaper. Now it is the turn of Lord Strathclyde, Tory chief whip in the House of Lords, whose walls are also stylishly adorned by Pugin patterns (pictured below), at the same cost to taxpayers.The discovery - made during the filming of BBC documentary Inside the Lords - will allow Lord Irvine to cock ...