24 August 1998

The Lawyer

  • A record year - but no time for complacency

    25-Aug-1998

    This year's financial figures from the top 50 firms reflect the blissful economic climate most businesses are currently enjoying. There are few surprises. The firms we expected to do well have indeed done so with record fees and profits.Others have performed relatively well, but there is a core of firms which go against the trend. It is these which must ask some serious questions about their business. If a firm cannot improve its position in such a vibrant period, ...

  • An annus mirabilis

    25-Aug-1998

    Champagne corks are popping for those firms posting record profits, but Philip Hoult and Robert Lindsay wonder whether a hangover is in the offing.Law firms will look back on the 1997/1998 financial year as a halcyon period. Amazingly, nearly every firm in The Lawyer Top 50 broke its record for both turnover and profitability. And, as more than one managing partner has commented during the compilation of this survey, if a firm cannot make serious money in this business climate, ...

  • Andersens calls back Hong Kong head and tightens grip on Garretts

    25-Aug-1998

    Justin Ede, the managing partner of Arthur Andersen's affiliated Hong Kong law firm Ede Charlton & Co, has been recalled to London.It has also emerged that property specialist Nigel Bacon, who was recruited from the Hong Kong office of Herbert Smith in April last year, has already left to take up a non-legal role at a US property company.An Andersens spokesperson said Ede would rejoin his old firm, Garretts, at the start of September.Ede, a litigator ...

  • Bahl quits EOC to spend more time at Law Soc

    25-Aug-1998

    The Bar Council has appointed Sir John Collyear, a senior figure from the engineering industry, to head up a committee to respond to the Government's plans to end the Bar's virtual monopoly of higher court advocacy.Last month, the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, published plans to give all solicitors and barristers full rights of audience immediately upon qualification providing that they meet certain training requirements.A primary role for Collyear's ...

  • Barristers are not corrupt, but must get better organised

    25-Aug-1998

    Nigel Pascoe QC says most incorrect claims are down to poor organisation and overwork rather than any concerted criminal effort. Nigel Pascoe QC is chairman of the Bar Public Affairs Committee and leader of the Western Circuit.Perception and reality: the double dilemna for all PR spokespeople. Time, then, for some home truths on the recent legal aid controversy.Paradoxically, the leaked memo to the Bar Council's professional standards committee (The Lawyer, ...

  • Better the devil you know

    25-Aug-1998

    As the battle over the future of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund continues, Shaun Pye investigates whether the insurance industry is really willing to replace it.A left-wing wit once observed that the reason Margaret Thatcher won so many elections was because "at least you always knew where you were with her".The Solicitors Indemnity Fund's (SIF) survival beyond the autumn may depend on a similar form of logic. Premiums may be considered high (in some cases ...

  • Better the devil you know

    25-Aug-1998

    If insurance companies are happy to offer extended coverage, why not for the first £1m in coverage currently offered by SIF?A left-wing wit once observed that the reason Margaret Thatcher won so many elections was because "at least you always knew where you were with her".The Solicitors Indemnity Fund's (SIF) survival beyond the autumn may depend on a similar form of logic. Premiums may be considered high (in some cases this year over 100 per cent ...

  • Blake Lapthorn in £1m IT overhaul

    25-Aug-1998

    HAMPSHIRE firm Blake Lapthorn has invested £1m in a front and back office overhaul of its IT systems which is to be implemented over a 10-week period.The 43-partner Fareham-based firm, which also has offices in London, Southampton and Portsmouth, signed a contract with IT suppliers Videss in July and aims to implement its case and practice management system, ...

  • Blow for Shoosmiths as partners quit

    25-Aug-1998

    Two partners have quit Shoosmiths & Harrison following a restructuring of its Reading and Southampton offices.Corporate partner Marshall Leopold and commercial property partner John Castell, both from the Reading office, will join Garretts in Reading at the beginning of September.The restructuring, announced last week, has seen the Northampton firm’s two southern offices ...

  • Book of the week

    25-Aug-1998

    A Life of Three Strands by David Caruth.Ex-Linklaters partner David Caruth looks back over his legal career, which included running Linklaters' New York office in the early 1980s.

  • Building on past experience

    25-Aug-1998

    Liz Taylor discusses whether another property boom could see a new flood of claims against conveyancing solicitors. Liz Taylor heads the professional indemnity team at James Chapman & Co.The explosion in professional negligence claims that followed the collapse of the property market in the late 1980s was driven by lending institutions attempting to recover their losses from professional advisers. Faced with a shortfall of many millions of pounds as a result of negative ...

  • Building society goes to Lords

    25-Aug-1998

    The West Bromwich Building Society has been given leave to appeal to the House of Lords in a key battle over home income plans. The Court of Appeal ruling in February, which is under challenge, centres on a long-running dispute over home income plans, promoted in the 1980s, and the liability of solicitors who carried out conveyancing associated with the scheme. Many of the plans collapsed in the early 1990s.

  • Chinese legal Web site

    25-Aug-1998

    China's Ministry of Justice has launched a Web site, the Huaxia Lawyers Network, to help lawyers keep up to date with new legislation, administrative rules and local laws as well as giving information on Chinese law firms and lawyers for referral work. It can be found at: http:// www.qgls.com.

  • Derry seeks the common touch

    25-Aug-1998

    Lord Irvine

  • Engineer to plot Bar course

    25-Aug-1998

    Kamlesh Bahl is stepping down as chairwoman of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) to concentrate more fully on her new role as deputy vice-president of the Law Society.Bahl, who will leave the EOC on 30 November, polled over 12,000 votes - the most of all the six candidates for office - beating David Keating in July's presidential elections.President Michael Mathews, vice-president Robert Sayer and Bahl have all promised to work closely together to ...

  • Environmental law needs clean-up

    25-Aug-1998

    Vincent Sen says the property industry must take action to counter the legal fudge surrounding contaminated land. Vincent Sen is managing director of ICC Site Search.Since July 1995, when the Environment Act received royal assent, the property industry has been pushing for legislative clarification of contaminated land liability.The Government's recent proposal to reduce greenfield development in favour of the regeneration of brownfield land - land which ...

  • Higher PI awards for lower returns

    25-Aug-1998

    Personal injury lawyers face a significant reassessment of claims following a landmark Lord's ruling, writes Roger Pearson.The recent trend for Irish theme pubs will be at the centre of an important licensed industry dispute scheduled for the High Court in October.Mr Justice Collins gave Philip Cropley, director of leading West Country theme-pub chain, Lionheart Inns, permission to seek judicial review of an Exeter Crown Court decision. ...

  • In brief: Ashursts hires new commercial property head

    25-Aug-1998

    Ashurst Morris Crisp has appointed Simon Cookson as its new head of commercial property. Cookson replaces Laurence Rutman, who was head of the department for the last 24 years. Ashursts has also elected Gonzalo Fernandez as a banking partner.

  • In brief: Berwin Leighton recruits finance director

    25-Aug-1998

    Berwin Leighton has recruited Titmuss Sainer Dechert's finance director Charles Whittam to become its finance director. He replaces David Graham who left in May to join Wilde Sapte. Berwin Leighton managing partner Bob Jones said: "His appointment adds real commercial experience to our management team."

  • In brief: Cheshire firm makes up four new partners

    25-Aug-1998

    Cheshire firm Daniels has made up four partners - Lawrence Tudin in the probate department, Simon Gowler in personal injury and Shelley Haddon and Liz Bottrill in matrimonial.

  • In brief: Crown Court may be able to fine tardy lawyers

    25-Aug-1998

    Lawyers who cause unnecessary delay to crown court trials could be fined under proposals being considered by the Government to speed up justice. The plans also include a possible £50m IT programme to put computer terminals into every crown court including on the judge's bench and in front of the jury.

  • In brief: Hardwicks gains partner and IBLC status

    25-Aug-1998

    Hardwick Sallards has recruited Michael Pearson as a partner from Druces & Attlee and Andy Macrow as a senior manager from Crump & Co. Pearson was the link for Druces & Attlee's membership of the International Business Law Consortium (IBLC) and Hardwicks is to replace the firm as the London representative of the consortium.

  • In brief: PFI expert leaves Winwards for Rowe & Maw

    25-Aug-1998

    Rowe & Maw has recruited US and UK qualified lawyer Carole Colley as a senior assistant in its project group. Colley, a US citizen who previously worked at construction firm Winward Fearon, has particular experience in the energy sector and PFI infrastructure projects.

  • In brief: Pinsents banking head withdraws to Barlows

    25-Aug-1998

    Neil James, Pinsent Curtis' London head of banking, has left to join Barlow Lyde & Gilbert. The arrival of James will bring Barlows' banking team, led by Graham Wedlake, to three partners and six assistants.

  • In brief: Sundin lands property shop management role

    25-Aug-1998

    Alistair Sundin (right) has been appointed regional manager for the North East Solicitors Property Shop (SPS). The property centre, which is being set up by the Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre (ESPC), is due to begin trading later this year.

  • In brief: Trowers restructures support in time for move

    25-Aug-1998

    Trowers & Hamlins has appointed David Dixon, previously deputy chief financial officer for Pricewaterhouse Coopers Eastern Europe, as head of finance. Last month John Cooper, previously at Frere Cholmeley Bischoff, joined as head of information services and Gordon Taylor came from Cameron McKenna to head up the administration. The arrivals complete a restructuring of support services at the ...

  • In brief: Yerbugh chooses Wedlake Bell as a suitor

    25-Aug-1998

    Farrar & Co assistant Tony Yerburgh is joining Wedlake Bell as a partner heading up its matrimonial practice.

  • International court intervenes in UN rapporteur's libel battle

    25-Aug-1998

    A battle to protect the immunity of the UN's Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers from prosecution has reached the International Court of Justice (ICJ).Param Cumaraswamy is being sued for allegedly libelling Malaysian businessmen whom he accused of manipulating the Malaysian judicial system in a London-based trade paper.In February, the Malaysian Federal Court ruled that he did not have immunity from prosecution for libel and an £8.9m ...

  • Invasion of the lawyer snatchers is nigh

    25-Aug-1998

    Mary Heaney finds that the increasing emergence of multidisciplinary partnerships is creating widespread concern among lawyers in the US.The American Bar Association (ABA) may have been slow to get to grips with the threat of the Big Five accountancy firms to the legal profession. But when it did, it was in typical US crusading style.At the ABA's annual conference in Toronto earlier this month, its new president, Philip Anderson, announced ...

  • Irish theme pub given licence to appeal

    25-Aug-1998

    Roger Pearson reports on how an upcoming judicial review could see the theme pub making even further inroads in the UK.Harrods loses fight over name m Knightsbridge store Harrods has failed in the final round of the legal battle, reported in The Lawyer (17 December 1996), in which it sought to prevent Harrods (Buenos Aires) from trading under the famous Harrods name. Harrods failed in both its High Court and Court of Appeal bids to block the activities of the South ...

  • Irvine aspires to be 'people's' Lord Chancellor

    25-Aug-1998

    THE LORD Chancellor, Lord Irvine has revealed an apparent desire to emulate the popular touch of Princess Diana by being remembered as a "people's Lord Chancellor".In a interview with The Lawyer this week, the man who is spearheading a populist shake up of the legal system says: "I hope at the end of my Lord Chancellorship, people will be able to look back and say that I am a people's Lord ChancellorS"His comments come almost exactly a year after his ...

  • It has been a bad week for:

    25-Aug-1998

    The two British families who won just £55 compensation from a travel company following their holiday in a Malta hotel which they described as a "hell-hole". District Judge Anthony Cleary awarded the meagre compensation after taking the unprecedented step of flying out to the three-star Palm Court hotel to check up on the conditions there. He ruled that the families' complaints were "largely unjustified". Among other things, he was "mystified" ...

  • It has been a good week for:

    25-Aug-1998

    Money launderers, whose solicitors are turning a blind eye to their activities, according to the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS). Last week the NCIS released figures showing that the number of tip-offs it has received from solicitors about the activities of money launderers fell from 300 in 1996 to 236 last year. The NCIS attacked solicitors for failing to meet their "legal and moral" obligations to report suspicious transactions. But the Law Society ...

  • Keeping Scotch off the rocks

    25-Aug-1998

    Roger Pearson reports on the team of lawyers responsible for upholding the name and quality of Scotch whisky.It is unlikely that there are many lawyers more passionate about Scotch whisky than Quintin Stewart and his specialist four-man team.Along with Stewart, Glen Barclay, Magnus Cormack and Euan Duncan are the in-house lawyers for the Edinburgh-based Scotch Whisky Association and are behind a global crusade to keep the name of Scotch pure.The team's ...

  • Law Soc and LAG issue call for fixed cost delays

    25-Aug-1998

    The Law Society and the Legal Action Group (LAG) have called on the Government to delay the introduction of fixed costs for fast track cases under the Woolf reforms.The Government originally proposed that trial costs under the fast track - with awards up to £15,000 - should be pegged at £350 where the award was less than £3,000, £500 for cases between £3,000 and £10,000 and £750 for cases over £10,000.But in June ...

  • Lawyers at play

    25-Aug-1998

    Cambridge's Hewitson Becke & Shaw sponsored the Hornet Moth Air Race at Woburn Abbey's recent 19th International Moth Rally. Partner Tim Richards presented the trophy to winner, Mark Miller, who won in a 1936 de Havilland Hornet Moth biplane.

  • Leaving behind Big Ben for a career in the City

    25-Aug-1998

    As lawyers from the private sector take key posts in the Blair Government, David McCahon relates his experience of moving out of Westminster and into the City. David McCahon is a barrister in the consumer and retail finance group at Cameron McKenna.It is a short walk between Westminster and the City, but the two spheres are often worlds apart. Before joining Cameron McKenna, where I have just started my sixth month, I worked for the Consumers' Association, followed ...

  • Lord Irvine pleges action on county court security

    25-Aug-1998

    THE LORD Chancellor, Lord Irvine has promised to act on calls by The Lawyer for county court summonses to be made freely available to the public.The move follows a successful bid by four barristers - Paul Ozin, Garrett Byrne, Brendan Finucane and Nicola Langridge - to block an application by The Lawyer for access to a summons which was issued against them by their former clerk.High Court writs are available to the public, but county court judges can refuse access ...

  • Mediating the US way

    25-Aug-1998

    I was disappointed to read that solicitors are unenthusiastic, apprehensive and hostile about mediation schemes which offer parties the chance to resolve disputes out of court.In the US, mediation has been used with great success and, in line with Lord Woolf's recent Access to Justice report, the industry must work hard to ensure that it is a success in the UK as well. The benefits of the mediation scheme for the insurance industry are, for ...

  • Mediating the wrong way

    25-Aug-1998

    I was recently speaking to one of my matrimonial clients who gave me her own perspective on mediation (having had six or seven mediation sessions with her husband).She said that when she was living with her husband, he used to shout at her every night for two hours. She is no longer living with him but instead she is having to go to mediation and is being charged the sum of £30 per session for the privilege of him continuing to shout at her.In her ...

  • Nicholas Yell on wives' reliance on an O'Brien defence. Nicholas Yell is a barrister at 1 Serjeants' Inn, the chambers of Edward Faulks QC.

    25-Aug-1998

    ON 31 July in the Court of Appeal, Lord Justices Stuart-Smith, Millett and Morritt gave a seminal judgm- ent on wives' entitlement to rely upon Barclays Bank v O'Brien defences, in particular when previously advised by a solicitor (Royal Bank of Scotland v Etridge). Eight appeals were considered and the outcome shows the difficulty for wives in successfully relying on an O'Brien defence.The judgment starts by recognising that the protection ...

  • NYC firm first to Shanghai

    25-Aug-1998

    US firm Kaye Scholer Fierman Hays & Handler is the first New York-headquartered firm to set up in Shanghai. The firm was granted its licence in February.

  • One more leaves 5 Bell Yard

    25-Aug-1998

    Leading aviation barrister Giles Kavanagh has quit top aviation set 5 Bell Yard to join Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, bringing the number of departures from the set's aviation group this year to six.Kavanagh, who has been with 5 Bell Yard for all of his 14 years at the Bar, will retrain as a solicitor and join Barlow Lyde's four-partner aviation team as an equity partner.He was unavailable for comment last week, but, in a statement, said: "Joining Barlow Lyde ...

  • Pension problems under scrutiny

    25-Aug-1998

    Christopher Fitton and Andrew Long on the latest pensions mis-selling review. Christopher Fitton is a solicitor and Andrew Long a partner at Pinsent Curtis.On 13 August the financial services regulators launched Phase II of the Review of Past Pension Business. This low-key, eight-line press release attracted little coverage, but its implications will be massive.The review came about in 1994-1995, when a study of sales of personal pensions during the period 29 ...

  • Personal injury lawyers face a significant reassessment of claims following a landmark Lords ruling, writes Roger Pearson.

    25-Aug-1998

    The recent signpost House of Lords ruling in the cases of Page v Sheerness Steel Co, Wells v Wells and Thomas v Brighton Health Authority, has had a dramatic impact on personal injury litigation.The ruling gives important new guidelines on calculating lump-sum damages for future loss of earnings and cost of care. Awards will inevitably go up as personal injury lawyers re-evaluate how they make calculations.The ruling centred on discounts given by judges ...

  • Quality standards: help or hindrance?

    25-Aug-1998

    Rodney Evans believes that the application of properly structured quality standards to the Bar could improve service, but warns that not all sets will agree. Rodney Evans is a principal consultant with Austin Hall Management Consultants.At the recent conference of the Institute of Barristers' Clerks, Daniel Brennan QC, vice-chairman of the Bar Council, spoke of the need to maintain high standards in the face of Conditional Fee Agreements (CFAs).

  • Quote of the week

    25-Aug-1998

    "I actually think I'm a very lucky Lord Chancellor." - Lord Irvine in jauntily optimistic mood."The best place for a horse is in a tin." - David Frank, head of capital markets at Slaughter and May, when asked whether he was required to bet on fellow partner Michael Pescod's race horse.

  • Resolve dispute over mediation

    25-Aug-1998

    The research into mediation at the Central London County Court is more interesting than your headline "Research finds solicitors hostile to mediation scheme" (The Lawyer, 4 August 1998) would indicate.You reported that many solicitors "preferred to depend on known litigation strategies rather than experimenting". Obviously - solicitors are not a bunch of mad scientists gleefully experimenting on the unwary.Given the other findings in ...

  • Russell Jones moves into Wales as next step in national expansion plan

    25-Aug-1998

    FAST-EXPANDING Russell Jones & Walker has opened a new office in Cardiff - the firm's third new office in the last 18 months.The Cardiff office will be staffed by five solicitors, all specialising in either medical negligence, personal injury or criminal cases.Michael Imperato, a senior assistant previously based at the firm's Bristol office, will head up the new practice.Imperato told The Lawyer that the firm's expansion of its regional ...

  • Russian liability law gets icy reception

    25-Aug-1998

    Small pay outs and a lack of legal infrastructure make the Russian courts a weak tool in the fight to get personal injury compensation. Alice Lagnado reports. Alice Lagnado is a reporter at the St Petersburg Times.On a Sunday afternoon last March, 12-year-old Ksenya Yuzipchuk was killed just metres from her front door when an icicle fell from a balcony above. Ksenya was the latest victim of a pattern of negligence that causes thousands of unnecessary deaths and serious injuries ...

  • SIF: the system on trial

    25-Aug-1998

    The Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF) with a £450m shortfall, stands accused of failign in its duty to the legal profession. The Law Society's Appleby Committee Report recommended reforming SIF by splitting it up into a number of different funds. Earlier this year, the November Group commissioned brokers Nelson Hurst & Marsh and Robert Fleming Professional & Financial Risks (UK) to produce an ...

  • Slaughters makes hayS

    25-Aug-1998

    For Slaughter and May partners the figures probably speak for themselves. The firm is far and away the most profitable in the country.But as jealous lawyers at other firms see the top partners tucking away close to £1m in the last financial year, dark mutterings about the firm's non-investment in foreign offices are spreading. Partners are "taking the money and running" ...

  • Slaughters' profits bonanza

    25-Aug-1998

    The two captive UK law firms of Pricewaterhouse Coopers are to be merged on 1 October to form a single 100-lawyer firm named Arnheim Tite & Lewis.According to an internal announcement at PwC, Chris Tite of Coopers & Lybrand's law firm Tite & Lewis will be managing partner while his colleague Mark Lewis will be joint senior partner alongside Chris Arnheim of Price Waterhouse's Arnheim & Co.Arnheim, who is a former partner at Hammond Suddards, will step ...

  • Slaughters' profits bonanza

    25-Aug-1998

    Slaughter and May's top equity partners are nudging £1m each in profits for the first time ever this year, research by The Lawyer has revealed.And in a record-breaking year for mergers and acquisitions, of the 50 largest firms 33 managed more than a 10 per cent increase in revenue with 11 raking in more than a 20 per cent increase, according to The Lawyer's profits ...

  • Stephenson Harwood to expand Madrid venture

    25-Aug-1998

    Stephenson Harwood has recruited a senior assistant from Garrigues Andersen and plans to take on three more lawyers later this year to expand its eight-lawyer Madrid office.Commercial property specialist Fernando Rodr'guez Mar'n will join as a partner to head the firm's property practice. Kenneth Bonavia, managing partner of the office, said that he planned to recruit ...

  • The Lawyer Inquiry: Barry Glazier

    25-Aug-1998

    Barry Glazier was born in 1941 in Sussex. He is managing partner at Lester Aldridge.What was your first job?Lorry driver for a wholesale florists.What was your first ever salary as a lawyer?£7 per week.What would you have done if you hadn't been a lawyer?Market gardening.

  • US firm poaches Dibbs IT star

    25-Aug-1998

    HIGH-flying Dibb Lupton Alsop IT partner Alistair Maughan is to leave to help US firm Shaw Pittman Plotts & Trowbridge set up a London office.Maughan has been charged with establishing the niche IT practice along with two other UK lawyers.Margaret Harvey, global legal head at Price Waterhouse before its merger with Coopers & Lybrand, and Andrew Dunlop, a senior IP lawyer at Freshfields are also joining the firm. All three English lawyers will become partners ...

  • US firms in battle to increase profits

    25-Aug-1998

    US firms are struggling to increase profits - even though their lawyers are working longer hours than ever before and at higher than ever charge-out rates.This was the finding of a survey of 483 US firms conducted by law firm management consultants Altman Weil.Average billable hours logged last year by partners rose to 1,783 and by associates to 1,819. Average hourly rates for partners broke the $200 barrier for the first time, increasing by 6 per cent to $206 ...

  • US in-house depts grow

    25-Aug-1998

    The latest survey of the 200 largest in-house legal departments by US magazine Corporate Legal Times and US firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart has found that they have grown by an average of almost 15 per cent - roughly 120 lawyers. Travelers Group heads the list with 760 lawyers worldwide.

  • US victory fuels Jewish victims' hope

    25-Aug-1998

    The settlement in the US by Swiss banks to compensate wartime Jews could fuel action in the UK, reports James Boxell.The billion-dollar legal action in the US brought by 31,000 Holocaust survivors and their relatives against several Swiss banks has finally been brought to a close.The $1.25bn (£800m) settlement agreed by Union Bank of Switzerland AG and Credit Suisse Group has averted the threat of sanctions against the banks from US states and has been ...

  • Wansbroughs acquires Vaudreys in first step to Beachcrofts merger

    25-Aug-1998

    NATIONAL firm Wansbroughs Willey Hargrave is to fulfil its long held ambition of gaining a Manchester stronghold by taking over 14-partner insurance specialists Vaudreys.The move, which is the culmination of 18 months of negotiations, has paved the way for a further merger with London firm Beachcroft Stanleys to create a top 10 firm.Wansbroughs will absorb Vaudreys on 1 September when it will boost its number of partners to 76 and become the 15th largest firm ...