Working holidays in black and white

In her letter to The Lawyer (1 November) commenting on my article of 18 October, Rosemary Curtin of Learned Friends asserts that employing a working holidaymaker who is a qualified solicitor as a temporary paralegal "does not contravene the visa restrictions as currently enforced by the Home Office". She then says that the prohibition on pursuing a career in the UK "can be construed to mean just about anything".

The Immigration Directorates' Instructions state that: "A person established or qualified in a profession or vocation overseas and who intends to take up a post or appointment in the same field in the United Kingdom should normally be required to obtain a work permit A working holidaymaker should not take up managerial positions or act as a locum hospital doctor, GP, solicitor, barrister etc."

Although there will always be borderline cases, it is obvious that solicitors on a working holiday should not be employed as paralegals if they are doing the job of a solicitor in all but name. I recently advised a City firm employing two working-holidaying Australian solicitors as "paralegals" on salaries of over £40,000 per year, until they were stopped by Immigration Officers at Heathrow, who did not take the view that this was a grey area. While there may not have been a test case on precisely this point, I believe that law firms should observe the intent of the Immigration Rules rather than wait for a court to spell it out in black and white. They might otherwise find themselves on the wrong side in the test case.

Julia Onslow-Cole, head of immigration, CMS Cameron McKenna

I write to invite your readers to take part in a trek to the top of the highest mountain in North Africa (Jebel Toubakal in Morocco). The expedition has been designed to appeal to busy lawyers (it will be crammed into a long weekend on 29 June to 3 July 2000) and is intended to raise funds for The Hope Charity for children with special needs.

Warner Cranston is sending a team of six (Sophie de Bellissen, Alison Dean, David Heard, Richard Shine, Lawrence Radley and myself) and we challenge the rest of the profession to join us. For more information, readers may contact me on: tel 0171 556 6704, fax 0171 403 4221, email

Ian Fagelson, senior partner, Warner Cranston