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In Court 61 of the High Court last Wednesday (3 May), The Lawyer apologised for its scoop of TheDa Vinci Code outcome, which it revealed before Mr Justice Peter Smith had handed down judgment.
Smith J gave a judgment that will serve as an important warning to all the media, particularly on the web.
"I acknowledge that journalists have a legitimate interest in publishing matters and a legitimate interest in publishing a scoop if they have it. These two legitimate interests should not collide with clear legal principles," said Smith J.
The judge entered a vigorous debate with Geoffrey Shaw QC of One Brick Court, who represented The Lawyer, about the laws regarding contempt of court.
Smith J concluded: "I accept there is an argument The Lawyer has not acted in contempt of court."
Smith J was a member of the working party that led to the October publication of a new practice direction, which allowed the parties to see in confidence a draft judgment ahead of it being handed down. Before that, only the lawyers involved in a case were sent the draft judgment and the parties were only notified an hour before it was handed down.
The Lawyer declined to reveal its sources. Smith J concluded: "It is not in the interests of justice to ask the journalists to reveal their sources."
He accepted The Lawyer's apology and said he would not ask for an inquiry.
'We have an issue in the timing of departures against arrivals, but the workflow is well in hand. We wouldn't take on anything we couldn't do.'
Norton Rose's US team head Tom Vita plays down the loss of 60 per cent of his lawyers. News, page 3 'I'm building the business carefully and incrementally, and not getting carried away and throwing money around.'
Weightmans' Patrick Gaul issues a lesson to competitors after a 25 per cent profit rise. News, page 3 'People who pirate music and make a profit should be sued out of existence.'
Terry McBride of music label Nettwerk gives his seal of approval to not-for-profit peer-to-peer music sharing. Analysis, page 16 'The difficulty for the museum world is the artistic aspect of it... Sometimes heavy documentation can hinder that ability to let projects evolve.'
Tate's legal head Jacqueline Hill cuts down on paper usage. The In-house Interview, page 19 'In this day and age we know that no firm can stand still - if you stand still you'll end up going backwards.' Harrison Clark senior partner Jonathan Brew outlines clear directions for his firm. Firm Profile, page 22