Grapevine

Property star Julian Holy lost his appeal to the High Court last week (11 May) against the Law Society’s decision to strike him off the solicitors’ roll.


Holy’s holey defence

Property star Julian Holy lost his appeal to the High Court last week (11 May) against the Law Society’s decision to strike him off the solicitors’ roll.

Holy was struck off last year over breaches of accounting rules, conflict of interest on loan transactions and other matters.

A year ago, Holy told The Lawyer: “I didn’t realise that I shouldn’t be acting for both sides on a deal.” A bafflingly naive statement for such an experienced lawyer, and clearly one that didn’t wash with Mr Justice Newman. Holy has now been suspended from practice for four years.

However, Holy’s contingency plans were way ahead of the judge, and he managed to hive off his £3.5m, nine-lawyer practice to Olswang and take up early retirement – although he has failed to clear his name. Olswang was the real winner, picking up a nice little property bolt-on, which it boosted earlier this month with boutique Kanter Jules joining the firm.

CAT gets tough after rejecting Celesio appeal

The Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) has launched a crackdown on third-party merger appeals, rejecting an attempt by pharmacy retailer Celesio to block the £7bn merger between Boots and Alliance Unichem.

In an extremely rare judgment, the CAT threw a bone to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), supporting its decision to clear conditionally the Boots and Alliance Unichem merger and chucked Celesio’s appeal.

Competition lawyers saw the move as an attempt to stamp out “weak” third-party appeals against mergers.

As one magic circle firm competition partner said: “The CAT is basically extending an olive branch to the OFT and saying that it isn’t going to accept frivolous claims.”

The CAT also took a swipe at Celesio, represented by Linklaters, for presenting a baseless argument.

“We have seen no basis for the forthright submissions that the evidence was ‘skewed’ towards that which suports the OFT case,” the judgment said.

Nabarros adopts passive-aggressive approach

Nabarro Nathanson makes no secret that it’s a conservative, workmanlike firm. It has announced a turnover hike of just under 10 per cent in the same week that senior partner Simon Johnston was reappointed for a further five years.

The turnover for 2005-06 was £107.3m, up from £98.1m last year (before the FRS5 uplift). “It’s what we were targeting,” said Johnston. Profit per equity partner is expected to graze the £450,000 mark this year.

“I think we continue to punch above our weight, and we’re getting bigger and better recognised for what we do,” said Johnston.

It’s a steady-as-she goes approach, but one that is paying off for the firm. Stable, solid and secure in its management, its growth and its finances. Johnston had no competition for the senior partner role and is planning a “slightly more aggressive” approach to the projects and funds practices.

But just how does Nabarros’ definition of ‘aggressive’ fit in with the rest of the market?