Grapevine

Herrington to splash FSA cash

It appears that former Clifford Chance investment funds partner Tim Herrington will have up to £2m more to spend on the in-house team and external legal advisers of his choice after the Financial Services Authority (FSA) announced the creation of a separate legal function for the Regulatory Decisions Committee (RDC).

As chairman of the RDC, Herrington will have ultimate control over the extra legal spend, which was announced last week as part of a raft of reforms to the FSA’s beleaguered enforcement regime. Part of the extra legal funding will go towards the hire of two or three more in-house lawyers, while insiders within the FSA claim that it will also be up to Herrington to select the external advisers used by the new legal capability.

The question is: will he play favourites with his former firm or with White & Case, the former firm of new FSA director of enforcement Margaret Cole?

Crime set bumps up fees via civil strife

Top crime set Hollis Whiteman Chambers has capped off a busy week with an instruction for Julian Bevan QC on the forthcoming trial of three UK soldiers accused of war crimes in Iraq. Bevan is understood to have been instructed as prosecution counsel in the landmark case.

Meanwhile, three Hollis Whiteman silks – Anthony Glass QC, Tim Langdale QC and Vivian Robinson QC – are defending individuals accused of health and safety lapses in the Hatfield rail crash trial, with three junior tenants also involved. Hatfield and the military case are common fodder for the set. More unusually, John Kelsey-Fry QC acted for Roman Polanski in his successful libel claim against Vanity Fair, one of a growing number of civil cases the set is doing.

The mix of cases shows that Hollis Whiteman is able to compete on two fronts. And given the current crisis in criminal fees, it may find civil cases a useful addition to its practice.

Kent makes full use of public convenience

Kent County Council Legal Services this week closed its fourth PFI project. That is not just the fourth deal of its kind in which it has been involved, it is the fourth PFI that it has handled entirely in-house.

The team, headed by Geoff Wild, has already picked up a gong at The Lawyer Awards for its groundbreaking work. Now it is leading the way in the latest trend to come out of local government – the in-house team as private practice lawyer (see the ‘Public Unlimited’ feature on pages 14-16).

Local authority lawyers are acting as pseudo private practice firms to take the strain off smaller authorities. Wild is adamant that the growth of this practice is not a threat to external firms. But the sector’s lawyers are facing an ever-growing mountain of work, and many are far more comfortable instructing a fellow local government lawyer than a City dweller.

It’s a trend that’s gathering momentum. Public sector specialists in private practice – watch out.