Law Soc vows to make M&S hearing public

The Law Society has vowed to fight the conflicts of interest case against Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partners Tim Jones and Barry O’Brien in public, meaning the magic circle’s systems and processes will be laid bare to the world.

A Law Society Regulation Board spokesman told The Lawyer that the society would resist any attempt to have the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal hearing held behind closed doors.

“Ninety-nine per cent of tribunal hearings are in public. It’s only in private if it is contrary to the interests of a third party – vulnerable people such as children, not M&S [Marks & Spencer] – or if a public hearing might prejudice subsequent criminal proceedings, which is not relevant in this case,” the spokesman said.

Jones and O’Brien are accused of being conflicted when Freshfields accepted instructions to act for retail mogul Philip Green on his £9bn bid for M&S in 2004.

But the hearing is expected in mid-2007 because of a backlog.