It's been a good week for…
Charity workers John Brock and Ruth Wynder, who were released on bail after seven months in prison. The pair were the first charity workers to be jailed under Section 8 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 after King's Lynn Crown Court heard that they knowingly allowed heroin to be dealt at the Wintercomfort charity in Cambridge. They were granted bail at the High Court last week, while they await their appeal hearing.
Law graduates. A study by Warwick University found that law and politics students are paid the most one year after graduation. Male graduates in these subjects receive 20 per cent more than the average graduate and women earn 16 per cent more.
Richard Partridge, a trainee barrister who was awarded £200 compensation after former Chelsea footballer Chris Sutton was found guilty of common assault for spitting in Partridge's face twice during a night out in Soho. Sutton now plays for Glasgow Celtic.
Andrew Regan. The Monaco-based businessman charged with the theft of £2.4m from Hobson, a company he once controlled, was given permission last week to travel St Tropez in return for an extra £500,000 on top of his £1m bail. Under the original bail conditions imposed on 23 May, Regan was ordered to surrender his passport, but was allowed to return to Monaco for the confirmation of his three children. Regan is best known for his failed £1.3m takeover bid for the Cooperative Wholesale Society.
It's been a bad week for…
Naughty vicars. Clergy accused of immoral behaviour will be more likely to be found guilty after the General Synod confirmed last week that the Church is to lower the burden of proof required for a conviction. The civil law "on the balance of probability" will be adopted in place of the criminal law "beyond reasonable doubt".
McDonald's. A former employee at Albi in south-west France told an industrial tribunal he had been unjustly sacked for giving his free meal tickets to a homeless woman. R‚mi Millet was backed by scores of supporters and given national media acclaim when he appeared at the tribunal. His backers include Jose Bove, who is awaiting sentence for wrecking a McDonald's restaurant.
The Law Society. More than 17,000 complaints were made against solicitors in England and Wales last year, according to a report published last week. A total of 568 complaints about barristers were also made. Ministers have warned that if there is no improvement by the end of the year the society will lose its self-regulatory powers.
An English couple who paid $19,000 (£13,000) to adopt a US baby. A Texas adoption agency has won a unique High Court order under European abduction regulations to get the baby girl back. She had been handed over to the couple on the basis of a report by an unqualified social worker. Social services in England later contacted the agency to say it believed the couple were not suitable adoptive parents.
Defence solicitors. A report by MPs recommends docking legal aid cash for defence solicitors who delay court hearings, as part of a drive to speed up justice. The report says that 23 per cent of delays are caused by defendants' lawyers being unprepared for the hearing.
Quote of the week
"I think he was more shocked than I was. I look quite mumsy and I don't think he thought he had anything to worry about."
– Barrister Caroline Hutton who grabbed hold of a 6ft 2in burglar at Enterprise Chambers in Lincoln's Inn last Tuesday. The man dropped cash he had found in the chambers before escaping through a window.
Case of the week
Antonio Fernandes, an accountant who was sacked after blowing the whistle on his manager's expense claims, was awarded more than £293,000 compensation last week.
The case, heard by a London employment tribunal, was one of the first to be brought under the Public Interest Disclosure Act, which protects whistleblowers from victimisation.
Fernandes was dismissed by Netcom Consultants in Reading after raising concerns about expense claims of £370,000 by managing director Steven Woodhouse.
Scuffle of the week
Brown, Taylor and Martin v R
Three men sentenced to 10 years for armed robbery had their convictions quashed last week following allegations that they were framed by corrupt Scotland Yard detectives.
Michael Brown, 27, Anthony Taylor, 29, and Kevin Martin, 30, repeatedly denied raiding a north London jewellery shop in 1995. Their first appeal was dismissed in 1996, but the case against them began to collapse two years ago when a secret police investigation into the flying squad uncovered a web of corruption.
Lawyers argued that a stun gun allegedly used in the robbery and recovered from Martin's flat nine months later was planted by police.
Some senior representatives of The Firm have gone round to Clifford Chance
Henderson: I think Clifford Chance moving out of the City is a very good idea. Did you know that we pay rent of £40 per square foot? That means I'm spending £120 on Chalmers' office alone. And by moving out to Canary Wharf Clifford Chance is much nearer to its clients. I think we should follow suit.
Pratchard: Move nearer to our clients? But I don't want to live in Barnsley. Or next to a jail.
Henderson: No, young Pinochet. Move out East. I've been eyeing up a couple of properties.
Pratchard: Canary Wharf?
Henderson: No. A couple of rooms above a bookies in Bethnal Green. But you should see the rent.
Pratchard: So why are we here again, Tom?
Henderson: Clifford Chance wants another firm to help sort out the move. It reckons its people are such hotshots that they could earn far more working than they'd save by doing the job in-house. So they approached us! The cheek! I told Peter Charlton that we've got important jobs on at the minute as well.
Pratchard: Yes, that stationery cupboard won't sort itself.
Henderson: Not to mention buying new toner for the photocopier. But he started begging, it was quite embarrassing really, so eventually I agreed to help.
Pratchard: But I thought Freshfields was handling the move?
Henderson: Freshfields? Freshfields couldn't handle a job like this. This is a job for the big boys. Moving an entire law firm to a new location takes experience. And more to the point – we've got our own van. Let Freshfields stick to the legal work. Nobody else in the City had the guts to bid for the removal contract. Well, except Davies Arnold Cooper, but it needs the money. Now where are the lads from our corporate department?
Pratchard: They're upstairs stuffing bits of newspaper into all the mugs and glasses. I've never understood why people do that.
Henderson: Good. Now I calculate, what with Clifford Chance being the biggest law firm in the world, that with our van we can do the entire move in only 48,913 trips. But that's okay, because it's not moving for months anyway. Which means phase two of "Operation Look At All Of Clifford Chance's Confidential Files" becomes a reality.
Pratchard: So what happens in "Operation Look At All Of Clifford Chance's Files"?
Henderson: The clue's in the question, Jack. Now get hunting for anything that looks important. Anybody asks what you're doing just suck on this rollie and say "don't mind me chief" if it's a man, or "darling" if it's a lady.
Pratchard: Tom. Pay dirt! Look, a huge file containing… it must be millions of names of clients.
Henderson: That would be the Yellow Pages. Maybe I should have got Big Tosh to help with this.
Pratchard: No, he's trying to get a piano down the main stairs in a comical manner. Hang on. What about this massive 2,000 page tome? Or is it just the phone book?
Henderson: It is the phone book – Clifford Chance's internal phonebook. My God – this firm's so big the corporate department's got its own dialling code. Now come on. Look for any secrets we could use to our nefarious advantage.
Pratchard: Tom, quickly. Look at this. This is disgraceful. I'm so shocked I can hardly speak. Tom, we must do something about this at once.
Henderson: What? Have they been poaching our clients?
Pratchard: No. There's no tea bags. I'm gasping for a brew, chief, during me break while I try and solve The Daily Star's £50 prize crossword.
Henderson: I think we should go back to being lawyers.