Web week

The Lawyer’s Web Week is a weekly commentary on legal activity on the web. This includes an overview of the best of the week’s blogs. If you want to direct us to useful links, email webweek@thelawyer.com.

No more horsing around

Tuesday (3 October) brought The Lawyer’s favourite story of the week, showing that lawyers everywhere have their finger on the pulse of risk management, in whatever form it takes.

icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/farming/countrypursuits blazed the headline ‘Lawyer warns of internet horse buying dangers’.

Simon Gibson, partner at Merseyside firm Kirwans, was moved to speak out about the dangers of internet horse buying after two clients, Welsh riders, were injured after being bucked off and injured by “falsely advertised animals”.

The article reported: “The horses had been advertised on the internet as being experienced, unflappable rides, only for a vet’s tests to later reveal they were young and probably frightened animals.”

Gibson was quoted saying: “Unless this practice is stamped out – and quickly – it can only be a matter of time before a rider is killed.”

Disclosure exposure

www.thelawyer.com had a record week, breaking 45 stories online by Friday afternoon. From the news of Hammonds appointing its first non-executive chairman, which was The Lawyer’s first scoop of the week on Monday morning (2 October), to our most popular story that Clifford Chance is to transfer 300 jobs to India for a £30m saving (see page 4 for more).

Heavy interest centred around the battle over court document disclosure rules, and the role Schillings played representing the Law Society, when it successfully had its interim injunction extended until a judicial review on 2 November.

www.thelawyer.com reported: “The block stops the new disclosure rules, which would have made documents such as pleadings and defence of a claim available to the public, applying to court documents filed before 2 October.”

Live and let spy

The shady practice of corporate espionage was highlighted in last week’s podcast on Pinsent Mason’s blog site www.out-law.com. The podcast features an interesting discussion on the legal merits of bugging – finding that it is possible to place a recording device in an office legally, but recording a phone conversation is a criminal offence.

Lawyer Victoria Southern says: “There’s nothing in any piece of legislation that stops you from putting a physical bug in a room, an office or something like that provided you are there lawfully and you haven’t committed any criminal offence to get access to it.”

The topic was broached in the wake of the bugging scandal at Hewlett-Packard in the US. But it’s not as simple as it seems – companies using any information obtained through bugging would be likely to come a cropper of data protection legislation.

“If the bug’s just been planted there and no one’s been told it’s recording the particular goings on in a room then there’s a good argument that the processing could be considered to be unfair,” the podcast said.

Hueston: he’ll have no problems

In the US, the co-head of the federal government’s Enron prosecution task force, John Hueston, was revealed to be joining southern California firm Irell & Manella.

Hueston made his name in the US through his fierce cross-examination of former Enron chairman and company founder Kenneth Lay.

The Wall Street Journal’s blog at blogs.wsg.com/law commented on a growing trend of US government prosecutors moving to private practice: “Hueston’s move reflects an accelerated trend of government prosecutors jumping to high-paying law firms. The Enron Task Force alone has seen several of its finest move to the other team.

“Hueston will be joining a few Irell & Manella partners who have lately made some headlines of their own. Steve Thomas recently negotiated the sale of Gustav Klimt’s portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer, which at $135m [£71.79m] was the most-expensive painting ever.

“And Morgan Chu, who was recently named the No 1 IP lawyer in the country by Chambers & Partners, recently won a $74m [£39.35m] patent-infringement jury verdict against satellite TV provider EchoStar Communications on behalf of TiVo.”