It’s late October, the clock’s have turned back, it’s dark and it seems summer is finally over. But there’s nothing to be glum about. Christmas will soon be here and skiing holidays too, and before you know it, it will be summer again. But regardless of what time of year it is, the Westlaw UK team are always here, working hard to improve your research service and this month has been no different.
In this edition we’re pleased to announce that our mobile web app BETA testing is well under way and still open for interested users to register, if you would like to try it out. Our Insight contributors have helped publish another 60 new articles since our last update, taking us to over 1000 articles.
We’re happy to reveal that following several customer requests for help in finding Statutory Guidance and Codes of Practice, which are notoriously difficult to locate, our Annotations team have begun a programme of adding links from the Annotations to the latest Guidance, Codes of Practice and Codes of Conduct issued by the Government, which you can read more about in our legislation and Annotated Statutes round-up.
We give you a books and looseleafs update, with information on the seven new titles recently launched, as well as listing what titles are coming soon. And make sure you check out our ‘What’s new in the law’ and ‘What’s new in the legal market’ sections, as they are again packed with news and information, keeping you up to date on what’s happening in the legal industry.
We also introduce you to the soon to launch Practical Law China, with links to more information.
Finally we’ve got information on some fantastic conferences coming up covering leadership, energy, judicial review, corporate risk and criminal law.
The Westlaw UK team
THE OCTOBER EDITION
WESTLAW UK’S MOBILE WEB APP BETA TESTING IS UNDER WAY
We’ve recently launched a BETA version of our brand new mobile web app, with plans to launch it officially soon.
The Westlaw UK mobile web app, has been created for quick searches and referencing across cases, legislation, journals and current awareness content, when you’re out of the office, on the move and when you haven’t the time or availability of your desktop or laptop.
We are still looking for willing participants, who would be interested in registering to test the BETA version and come back to us with any feedback and suggestions.
If this sounds of interest to you, please click the link below to register. Once registered you will receive a confirmation email with a link to download the app, as well as further details on how to provide feedback.
Note: Participants would require either a smart phone or tablet device (either Android, Apple or Blackberry 10+).
ANOTHER 60 ARTICLES ADDED
Our contributors have again been busy, with 60 articles published since our last update. Articles include:
- Abatement (legacy)
- Access to environmental information
- Arbitrators’ liability
- Arbitrators: powers and duties
- Charity proceedings
- Consumer credit agreements: classes of
- Consumer credit agreements: entry into
- Consumer credit agreements: withdrawal and cancellation
- Consumer credit licensing: appeals
- Corporate manslaughter: decision to prosecute
- Corporate manslaughter: jury directions
- Corporate manslaughter: sentencing
- Costs management by court
- Crichel Down Rules
- Debt relief orders
- Design defects
- Disclaimer of lease
- EU Water Framework Directive
- European companies: conversion into
- Fixed costs
- Food Standards Agency
- Food: enforcement of law
- Fraudulent trading (civil)
- Freedom of information: commercially sensitive information
- Gating orders
- Habeas corpus
- Immigration control: carriers’ liability
- Inspection of schools
- Insurance: Follow the Settlements clauses
- Judicial review: interested parties
- Leasehold enfranchisement
- Legal risk management
- Medical negligence: limitation periods
- Mental health (Wales)
- Mental health: personal information
- Money laundering: regulation
- NEC contracts
- No case to answer
- Non-molestation orders
- Patentable inventions
- Periodic tenancies
- Personal injuries: interim payments
- Prohibition of discrimination: ECHR
- Public international law
- Public procurement: declarations of ineffectiveness
- Registration of ships
- Reservation of benefit
- Restrictions on patentability in life sciences
- Trading law: business to business marketing
- Transactions defrauding creditors
- Transfer of functions
- Unsafe ports: war risks and piracy
- War crimes
- Water industry: competition
- Water quality
- Wills: construction
LEGISLATION ON WESTLAW UK
October was a busy month for our legislation team with approximately 2,500 effects commenced over two “common commencement” days. The team, fresh from the application of several thousand amendments in April, and a similar number following the Finance Act 2013, were able to breeze through these effects with little trouble, allowing them to continue their work on the 2013 enhancements programme.
NEW BOOKS & LOOSELEAFS
Since our last update, we have successfully launched another seven new book and looseleaf titles. You can read more about each of the new titles that have gone live below. To keep you in the know, we’ve also included a list of titles that are planned to launch very soon.
NEW TITLES RECENTLY LAUNCHED:
- Prescription and Limitation of Actions (Greens) – More Information
- The Law of Agency (Greens) – More Information
- Vinter: Project Finance – More Information
- The Law Relating to Parent & Child in Scotland (SULI) – More Information
- Modern GATT Law: Bhala – More Information
- Parliament House Book – More Information
- Mitchell, Taylor and Talbot on Confiscation and the Proceeds of Crime – More Information
- Dilapidations: The Modern Law and Practice
- Arlidge & Parry on Fraud
- Renewal of Business Tenancies
- Byles on Bills of Exchange
- Police and Criminal Evidence Act (Zander)
- Confiscation and Recovery
*Books and Looseleafs are available as add-ons to Westlaw UK. Speak to your Account Manager to discuss subscription options.
ANNOTATIONS UPDATE FOR SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER
It’s been a very busy period for our Annotations team recently. In the last few weeks all 356 entries in the General Notes Library have been reviewed and where relevant revised. The team will continue to update them on a monthly basis to reflect newly decided cases, key legislative amendments and guidance issued by Government departments.
Since 1 September the following two Bills received Royal Assent and the annotations were published on Westlaw UK soon after:
- Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013 – annotations published on Westlaw UK 8 days after Royal Assent
- Marine Act (Northern Ireland) 2013 – annotations published on Westlaw UK 13 days after Royal Assent
All Acts from 2007 onwards are annotated, but we have an ever-expanding archive of pre-2007 Acts which have been annotated based on customer requests and customer usage. Our annotations programme is ongoing and we particularly welcome requests from our customers.
- Marine Insurance Act 1906 – within a couple of weeks of a customer requesting annotations for this Act they were published on Westlaw UK
- Licensing Act 2003 – this is currently being annotated following a customer request and the annotations should be appearing online shortly
- Active Travel (Wales) Bill – awaiting Royal Assent – annotated and ready to go online once Royal Assent received
- Mobile Homes (Wales) Bill – awaiting Royal Assent – annotated and ready to go online once Royal Assent received
NEW TO WESTLAW UK ANNOTATIONS
Links to Statutory Guidance, Codes of Practice and Codes of Conduct (see General Notes: Guidance; and Code of Practice; Code of Conduct).
Following several customer requests for help in finding Statutory Guidance and Codes of Practice, which are notoriously difficult to locate, our Annotations team have begun a programme of adding links from the Annotations to the latest Guidance, Codes of Practice and Codes of Conduct issued by the Government. These will be added across the whole statute book including Acts which have not been fully annotated and will be kept up to date so the link will automatically take you to the latest version.
Our customers have told us it would be a huge bonus to them and would save hours of research time if these could be accessed from Westlaw UK. You can already find links to hundreds of Guidance papers and Codes of Practice in our annotated Acts and General Notes, usually under a “Quasi-Legislation Note”. For some examples see:
- Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 s.29 – link to Surveillance Camera Code of Practice
- Localism Act 2011 s.40 – link to statutory Guidance “Openness and accountability in local pay”
- Gambling Act 2005 – all sections link to the Consolidated Version of the Codes of Practice; and Guidance to licensing authorities
- Town and Country Planning Act 1990 ss.106BA, 106BC, 215 – “Section 106 affordable housing requirements: review and appeal”; and “Section 215: best practice guidance”
- Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 – all sections link to Codes of Practice
- Water Industry Act 1991 s.150 – link to Ofwat’s “A guide to water resale”
- General Note: Consultation – provides a link to the non-statutory guidance issued by the Cabinet Office on the principles to be applied by Government Departments when undertaking consultations
*Please note the Annotated Statutes service is available as an add-on to a current Westlaw UK subscription.
We thought you may like to know that Practical Law’s new China know-how service launches on Tuesday 5 November. The first service of its kind for the Chinese legal market, it provides practitioners with the practical support needed to carry out and advise on transactions with Chinese parties.
Visit uk.practicallaw.com/about/china to find out more.
WHAT’S NEW IN THE LAW © 2013 Sweet & Maxwell
- Ministry of Sound turns to Wiggin to launch suit against Spotify
Music streaming service Spotify has brought in Taylor Wessing to help defend a database copyright claim levelled at it by dance music label Ministry of Sound (MoS).
The case was launched at the High Court. The MoS has instructed Wiggin partner Simon Baggs to lead the case. Baggs has instructed Maitland Chambers’ Edmund Cullen QC as counsel.
Spotify has brought in Taylor Wessing’s head of trademarks, copyright and media Niri Shan to defend the case. Counsel is yet to be instructed. According to the MoS, Spotify had infringed its trademarks because it made available playlists that were identical to those put out on MoS compilation albums. The company said it launched the case after Spotify refused to take any action to prevent the duplication. It argues that the law protects the expertise and creative effort involved in creating compilation albums.
It is seeking an injunction to force Spotify to remove the playlists in contention and to permanently exclude from the service all playlists which appear to be copies of MoS compilations. The Ministry also wants a declaration that Spotify has infringed the copyright.
Spotify is yet to file defence of the claim at the court.
- Scottish court move could save claimants hundreds
From September 24, 2013, counsel can appear without an instructing solicitor in civil cases in Scotland. The changed was announced by the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and is sanctioned by Scotland’s most senior judge Lord Gill. The change brings Scotland into line with England and Wales.
A Leeds County Court judgment, which could have implications for all bus and train companies, has ruled that wheelchair users have priority over mothers with prams for the use of designated wheelchair areas in buses. Doug Paulley, a wheelchair user, took First Group to court after he was told he could not get on a bus because a mother did not want to move her pushchair, which was in the priority space for wheelchairs. The court ruled the incident was unlawful discrimination in breach of the Equality Act 2010 and awarded Mr Paulley GBP 5,500 in compensation.
- Ban on CCTV cameras to halt unfair fines
Under Government proposals, councils in England could be stopped from using CCTV cameras to maximise their income from parking fines. A consultation will suggest amending legislation underpinning the Traffic Management Act 2004 to outlaw the practice.
- Rail passengers can claim for bad weather delay
A European Court of Justice ruling will allow rail passengers to claim compensation of up to GBP 125 if their trains are more than two hours late due to bad weather or industrial action. The judgment follows a case in Austria, where a passenger was denied compensation after the train operator claimed that unforeseeable circumstances had led to the delay.
- Courts see rise in applications for privacy injunctions
There has been a rise in the number of privacy injunctions being sought in the courts, according to figures released by the Ministry of Justice.
Six new orders were granted by the high court between January and June this year, enabling hearings to take place in private, restricting access to court documents or ensuring anonymity for those involved.
Four of the injunctions were sought by men, one by a woman and the other one involved several claimants. In the previous six months, only three new applications were made, all of which were granted.
The figures emerge from the latest survey of privacy injunctions, a statistical record begun after public concern two years ago over the number of superinjunctions made by the courts to protect the identity of wealthy applicants, including footballers, or suppress allegations against them. At that stage no central record was kept of the number of injunctions granted.
None of the six new privacy injunctions recorded by the courts in the past six months were superinjunctions – the most secretive court orders whose existence cannot even be reported.
They relate to data protection and rights to respect for private and family life protected by article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Some are injunctions sought by an individual, others by public bodies or firms.
- R. v D (R)
The court directed that a female defendant was free to wear a niqaab covering her face during her trial except while giving evidence and could not give evidence while wearing a niqaab. She had a qualified right to manifest her religion or belief pursuant to the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 art.9 and the court was entitled to place some restriction on that right since the unrestrained exercise of it would interfere to an unacceptable extent with the court’s ability to conduct a trial which was fair to all parties.
View the case on Westlaw UK: 2013 WL 4788776
- Stalking Laws Lead To Just 33 Convictions
Figures obtained under a freedom of information request showed that between November 2012, when stalking became a crime, and the end of June this year, 320 people were arrested across 30 police forces.
Of those 189 were charged – so far six of those have been jailed and 27 given community disposals. According to the British Crime Survey, there are around 120,000 predominantly vulnerable female victims of stalking each year.
- Dyson claims Samsung stole its design for ball steering
Dyson is taking Samsung Electronics to the High Court, claiming the South Korean company infringed on a patent for its ball steering system on vacuum cleaners.
The British engineer claimed that Samsung had copied its “cleaning appliance with a steering mechanism” patent which it said was the result of three years of research.
- Tribunal “may pave way” for bedroom tax appeals
Legal challenges to the spare room subsidy could be opened up after a Fife tribunal ruled that small spare rooms should not be considered for the penalty.
The tribunal concluded that a room measuring less than 50 sq ft is not a bedroom, that a room measuring between 50 and 70 sq ft is suitable only for a child aged under ten and that authorities must take into account the long-established uses of a room. The ruling will not create a precedent in other tribunals but lawyers said it would have repercussions for other cases across the UK, making it more likely that appeals would find in claimants’ favour.
MPs warn access to transport for disabled people still unacceptably poor
The Government must work harder to improve accessibility for disabled people across the nation’s transport networks, warns the Transport Committee in a wide ranging report published.
Launching the report, Louise Ellman, Chair of the Transport Committee, said: “In the UK some 11.5m people already live with a recognised disability and more than a fifth of them experience some difficulty when using transport networks. So it’s essential that the Department for Transport delivers an ambitious Accessibility Action Plan.
“Changes made ahead of the 2012 Paralympic Games delivered access for disabled people to significantly more parts of the public transport network for the first time and highlighted the immense value of such improvements for all.
Yet a year later, there is a risk that some of the momentum from London 2012 is being lost because further key accessibility improvements planned by the Department for Transport are been watered-down or abandoned.
- Public Accounts Committee publishes Police Procurement Report
The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said: “Police forces pay widely varying prices for very similar items, which mean money is being wasted. The price paid for such basic items as standard-issue boots can vary from £25 to £114, or £14 to £43 for handcuffs.
This is even the case where items are identical. It cannot be right that prices paid for the same type of high-visibility jacket varied by as much as 33%.With central funding being cut, police forces must ensure they get best value for money from procurement so that they can focus resources on fighting crime.Forces can make big savings through bulk-buying of items, but have been unable to agree on the most simple things, like how many pockets they should have on their uniforms.
The Department cannot persuade enough individual forces to cooperate with its attempts to introduce more centralised procurement, in part because forces are sceptical about the commercial competence of procurement officers working at the centre.
National contracts with suppliers are not used by enough forces and do not cover many basic goods and services. Forces’ use of the new, online police procurement ‘hub’ is also woefully below the Home Office’s expectations. By 2013, a miniscule 2% of items were being bought through this central hub, against a target of 80% by the end of this Parliament. We recognize that Police and Crime Commissioners have authority over local spending but, as the Department remains accountable for public money voted by Parliament, it cannot step back from value for money issues.
- Search begins to find best organisations to tackle high reoffending rates
Crime and policing Minister The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP… A competition was launched this month with more than 700 organisations from across the world looking to turn offenders’ lives around, as part of an annual £450 million package of rehabilitation contracts across England and Wales.
This includes hundreds of British organisations, employing many thousands of people, who are ready to get to work tackling our stubbornly high reoffending rates, that see almost half of all offenders leaving prison going onto reoffend within a year.
Voluntary sector organisations will play a big role in our plans, with 399 having expressed interest. Many Small and Medium Enterprises are also ready to link-up with other organisations to deliver our reforms. They sit alongside around 30 potential larger organisations ready to partner with smaller organisations to help break the cycle of reoffending.
Public service mutuals – businesses that are run or owned by their employees – also have the opportunity to play an important role in the delivery of new rehabilitation contracts, with eight spin outs covering eleven probation trusts preparing to bid for services.
The competition has already created an unprecedented level of interest from various market sectors compared to any previous Ministry of Justice competition. Contracts have been split across 20 regions for England and one for Wales with responsibility for supervising and rehabilitating 225,000 low and medium risk offenders each year.
Providers will only be paid in full if they are successful at reducing reoffending, helping drive innovation and getting best value for hard working taxpayers.
- Scotland rejects separate representation in decisive vote
Scottish solicitors have voted firmly against what would have been a landmark proposal to end the practice of allowing one professional to act for two parties in a conveyancing transaction.
Mandatory separate representation was rejected at a special general meeting of the Law Society of Scotland last night, as members opted to maintain the status quo, which allows solicitors to represent buyers and their mortgage lenders. In total, 847 members voted against a change to the conflict of interest rules, with 671 in favour. The vote followed a decision at the society’s annual general meeting in March when members voted for the principle of moving towards mandatory separate representation. But, following a consultation over the summer, sentiment appears to have changed.
Bruce Beveridge, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: ‘There has been a mood change within the profession since the vote at the annual general meeting in March this year.
‘The majority of solicitors at today’s meeting clearly believe that the current practice works for their clients, although there remains a significant number of solicitors who have concerns.’
He said issues around separate representation were originally raised by solicitors who had concerns about requirements placed on them by banks and building societies which could compromise their relationship with the buyer client.
But responses to the consultation revealed the strength of feeling within the profession and the sensitivities of the proposed change.
- Law firms fall behind in technology stakes
According to one technology expert, law firms are now lagging seriously behind other advisers when it comes to embracing modern technology.
Ben Wightwick, an IT consultant and business analyst, says that most law firms are now several years behind the Big Four accountancy firms in the technology department. Wightwick claims that any headway in technology adoption is being driven by client pressure and the demands of a younger generation of “tech-savvy” lawyers.
The NSW Legal Services Commissioner Steve Marks has also recently warned that the profession needs to modernise in order to survive. Describing the profession as “inherently conservative”, Marks commented that both large and small firms are slow to embrace new systems. Speaking to Lawyers Weekly Wightwick says, “In the last three years the legal landscape has changed dramatically,” and “firms are suddenly realising that the old way isn’t going to be the right way in the future.”
- SRA to create consumer-facing website
A new ‘consumer-facing’ website called Legal Choices will be published this autumn under a new programme of initiatives expected to be approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
The regulator announced today that the website, which is to be developed with other regulators, would ‘help ensure consumers have the information they need when they use legal services’. It forms part of a two-year action plan ‘Empowering consumers – the SRA’s approach’ to be considered by the SRA’s board tomorrow.
According to the announcement, the new plan is the second phase of work that the SRA has carried out over the past 18 months to ‘build up an understanding of how consumers can be empowered when they use a legal service’.
The SRA’s director of inclusion, Mehrunnisa Lalani, said: ‘All too often we hear about confusion that people face when they need to access a legal service, and the perception that many big decisions are effectively left to chance if consumers don’t have the tools they need to make the right choices.’
She added: ‘Over the past 18 months we have listened to what people have told us they need. Often this amounts simply to getting the right information, in the right format, at the right time.
‘The Legal Choices website is a good example of this, with legal regulators coming together for the first time to provide a resource that looks through the consumer’s eyes at the legal services market, and helps them to help people cut a path through advice and guidance that is already out there, and then find exactly what they need.’
- Finalists announced after record entry in excellence awards
The shortlist of finalists in the Law Society Excellence Awards 2013 has been published following a record number of entries.
The awards, now in their seventh year, reward the most outstanding practitioners in the legal profession and are open to the entire legal sector, not just solicitors.Entries were scrutinised earlier this month by a lineup of specialist judges, including the master of the rolls Lord Dyson, Sadiq Khan MP, the chairman of Which? Patrick Barwise, former attorney general Lord Goldsmith, Monique Villa, CEO of Thomson Reuters Foundation, and solicitor High Court judge Sir Gary Hickinbottom.
See the full shortlist here
The winners will be announced by BBC broadcaster Mishal Husain at a dinner on 22 October at the Park Plaza Hotel, Westminster.
NEWS AND INFORMATION FROM THE LEGAL MARKET
This month we’ve included all the news and information from the Large, Medium, Small, Bar, In-House, Public and Academic sectors.
WHAT’S NEW IN LARGE LAW © 2013 Sweet & Maxwell
- A&O’s Morley on the future of legal services: reinvent or disappear
Allen & Overy (A&O) senior partner David Morley says the world’s top firms will need to reinvent themselves over the next decade if they are to remain competitive.
Morley makes his predictions in a video interview as part of The Lawyer’s wide-ranging crystal ball-gazing issue. During the interview Morley confirms his belief that the market is “entering a period of very rapid change” with new forms of competition coming into the market.
“Law firms genuinely will need to reinvent themselves and their business model over time,” adds Morley. “The only thing which matters in the future is your ability to compete in that world.”
Five years ago, the last time The Lawyer looked into its crystal ball, Morley proved to be particularly prescient. Interviewed for The Lawyer UK200 Annual Report 2008, Morley’s predictions included the suggestion that the geographic footprint of the world’s largest firms would continue to “spread into other emerging markets such as Turkey, Ukraine and Morocco”.
- Maclays confirms 28 redundancies
Scottish firm Maclay Murray & Spens has confirmed the loss of 28 jobs following a redundancy consultation that began in June.
The staff affected are both legal and support staff and based in the firm’s Edinburgh, Glasgow and London offices. Maclays originally said the roles were across a range of practice areas, particularly property and corporate.
The consultation followed another round of redundancies last year.
“While we regret having to take these steps, they are necessary for the implementation of the firm’s future growth strategy,” a spokesperson said.
- Speechly aims at Europe with Geneva launch
Speechly Bircham is staking its future on international expansion across Europe kickstarting with the launch of a second office in Switzerland.
The office launch in Geneva comes just months after the firm called off merger talks with Withers , which opened in the jurisdiction in September 2005.
The Speechly office will be led by former Withers lawyer Michael Wells-Greco and of counsel Francis Rojas, who both left the firm in 2011 to join Luxembourg-based personal wealth outfit Maitland.
Speechly senior partner Michael Lingens said the firm intended to grow the office gradually, with no immediate lateral hires in the offing. Lingens added that the firm would target instructions in the field of private wealth.
- Dundas & Wilson puts Scotland at the heart of UK-wide strategy
Dundas & Wilson is to refocus on growth of its Scottish base, turning away from the firm’s previous strategy of building itself out as a major UK firm.
Co-managing partner Allen Wernham said the firm would refocus on its Scottish roots, while honing in three core areas in London: real estate, construction and infrastructure, and restructuring.
“People come to us because of our reputation in Scotland. However, in the previous years, we were focusing on building the firm as a major UK firm and had not invested much in Scotland,” said Wernham. “We need to refresh and refocus our strategy to Scotland, because quality Scottish offering is what makes us stand out.”
The firm has kickstarted a recruitment drive for its Glasgow-based paralegal Legal Services Unit (LSU), effectively an in-house outsourcing team. Wernham said the LSU had doubled the size in the first year of operation and it would be home to 20 paralegals by the end of the current financial year. He added that there are plans to install specialised services for some of the firm’s practice groups, with corporate being one of the first targeted areas.
Amid all the gloom, legal eagles soar ever higher An analysis by Legal Business reveals that the UK’s top 100 law firms billed their clients GBP 19.1 billion in the 2012-13 financial year, a rise of 8 per cent on the previous year. Slaughter and May, the most profitable British law firm, paid its partners GBP 2.55 million and its margins were the second-highest in the industry, at 47 per cent. Only Clifford Chance’s profit per partner measure dropped below GBP 1 million to GBP 983,000. Others, such as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters, took GBP 1.4 million and GBP 1.3 million per partner, respectively.
- Dickson Minto Scotland’s highest-paying law firm
Dickson Minto has retained its position as Scotland’s highest-paying law firm, according to figures due to be released on September 3, 2013. Its profit per equity partner (PEP) may have been flat at GBP 1.06 million, but that still left the firm above its rivals. Brodies was second in the rankings, with PEP up 8 per cent to GBP 432,000, while Burness Paull took third with GBP 343,000.
- Mergers help top 100 return to double-digit growth
Turnover growth by top-100 firms has moved into double figures for the first time since the financial crisis of 2008 – largely because of mergers between firms – an authoritative survey reveals this week.
Latest figures from Deloitte’s quarterly legal sector survey show that in the quarter ended 31 July 2013 firms posted an average 10.5% more revenue than in the same period last year.
Mergers between firms accounted for half of the revenue increase, with the rest driven by an increase in general market activity. Outside the top 25, turnover grew by 14%.
Jeremy Black, partner in Deloitte’s professional services practice, said merger activity reflected consolidation, particularly in areas such as personal injury. ‘Merger activity continues apace, particularly in the volume space and outside of London where markets remain tough and law firms continue to face a number of challenges. Consolidation outside the top 25 firms has led to significant growth in average fee income and fee earner headcount,’ he said.‘It’s been a surprisingly strong quarter, even when the merger activity is stripped out, firms saw an average underlying growth of 5%,’ he added. Income per fee earner rose 4% due to an increase in work and rates. Firms forecast a revenue increase of 5.1% for the financial year 2014.
- Clifford Chance wins official role on Rugby World Cup pitch
Clifford Chance has been appointed as legal advisor to Rugby World Cup (RWCL) ahead of the 2015 competition, which is to be held in England.
The mandate followed a competitive pitch process and means CC will advise the International Rugby Board (IRB) and its commercial affiliate RWCL in connection for the preparation and staging of the tournament, which kicks off in exactly two years time today.
It is not known which other firms pitched for the work, but CC was a likely contender given its longstanding relationship with the IRB – the firm was selected as official legal adviser for the 2007 World Cup in France.
- Manches and Penningtons in advanced merger talks to create £60m firm
Manches is close to sealing a merger with private client firm Penningtons in a move that would create a £60m firm of roughly 250 lawyers.
Insiders say Manches has been scouring the market for a merger partner for months and is now in the final stages of talks with Penningtons. According to sources, partners have been asked to sign a lock-in agreement this Friday (27 September).
Both firms confirmed that they had been speaking to each other with a view to a merger. Manches Thames Valley managing partner Richard Smith said: “I can confirm on behalf of all the Manches offices that we are in discussions with the management team at Penningtons concerning the possibility of a merger between our two practices.
“It has been agreed by both firms that these talks are being undertaken on a confidential basis. We are therefore not currently in a position to make any further public comment on their likely outcome.”
- Pannone partners vote in favour of Slater & Gordon sell-off
Pannone partners have voted in favour of the proposed sell-off of the firm’s consumer business to Slater & Gordon. The Lawyer revealed last week that Slater & Gordon has been circling Manchester-based Pannone with the intention of making the consumer business its next strategic acquisition.
A formal announcement is not expected to be made by either firm until mid-October, when it is thought that Pannone will announce the division of the firm. Pannone’s corporate business, worth an estimated £8.5m of the overall £45.6m turnover reported at the 2012/13 year-end, will break away and reform under the leadership of head of dispute resolution Paul Jonson.
- Kennedys recruits seven apprentices
International firm Kennedys has recruited seven apprentices to train as paralegals, the firm announced today.
The apprentices will train under the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship in Legal Services scheme, designed to train staff as paralegals. They will take up posts across the country from 30 September.
Charlotte Willis, 18, will work in personal injury in the Sheffield office. She said: ‘I had offers from universities but decided against going, as I felt the academic qualifications and practical experience I would get from the apprenticeship was a much better route into law.’ Emma Phipps, HR manager at Kennedys, said the firm was broadening its approach to legal recruitment. ‘Some of the best potential lawyers of the future can be recruited on leaving school,’ she said.
Last week the Legal Services Board called for barriers to entry to be lowered, in proposed statutory guidance for implementing the recommendations of the Legal Education and Training Review. The super-regulator said there should be ‘fewer restrictions to the way that people are able to qualify’.
WHAT’S NEW IN SMALL LAW © 2013 Sweet & Maxwell
- Third of law firms under financial pressure, says Company Watch
A third of law firms are under financial pressure and may require refinancing or an injection of capital, new research has found.
Commissioned by leading costs firm Kain Knight, financial health specialist Company Watch said that 898 of the 2,600 firms that file accounts were in trouble.
Smaller law firms are most likely to be vulnerable, with the research confirming that half (463 out of 932) of firms with assets of less than £100,000 are in the Company Watch ‘warning area’.
Additionally, 488 law firms (19% of the sample) have liabilities which are larger than their assets. A third of smaller firms with assets of less than £100,000 fall into this category.
Financial stability is the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s priority at the moment following a string of high-profile failures, and it is in “intensive engagement” with 160 firms due to worries about their positions.
Company Watch reached its conclusions based on each firm’s most recent published accounts as processed through its ‘H-Score’ risk assessment model
- QS bids to persuade public to love their lawyer
QualitySolicitors has today launched a new advertising campaign that aims to tackle common preconceptions about lawyers, using the tag line ‘Changing the way you see lawyers’.
The group said that following consumer research and feedback from clients, it wants “to change people’s perceptions with a campaign that shows it is possible to find legal services that are approachable, jargon-free, and available when you need them”.
The campaign highlights the simple service promises that QS make: free first advice, no hidden costs, direct contact with lawyers, same-day responses, and Saturday openings. Starting with the press and digital advertising this month, QS’s new television spots will appear next month.
QS said its client research found that whilst lawyers tend to be excellent at carrying out the technical aspects of the job, concerns around expense, use of jargon and the time it takes to respond “can make a visit to a solicitor an intimidating and often last resort prospect”.
- Leading trade union firms join forces to launch ‘Lawyers 4 Unions’
Pattinson & Brewer and Beecham Peacock have created a joint venture that widens both firms’ offering to trade unions.
Lawyers 4 Unions – which is styled as ‘Pattinson Brewer in association with Beecham Peacock’ – was launched yesterday at the annual Trades Union Congress in Bournemouth.
Frances McCarthy, managing partner of Pattinson & Brewer – which has offices in London, Bristol and York – said acting for unions has changed over the years; where once members would automatically seek legal advice from their union’s solicitors, now there is a need “to make people realise that their best course of action is to turn to their union… Union solicitors need to be more proactive in helping members”.
Further, the dynamics of acting for trade unions are changing with several firms leaving the field due to the cuts in fees for fast-track personal injury (PI) work. Ms McCarthy said “everything is on the table” for the firm in the future – including alternative business structures, which have been embraced by other trade union firms like Thompsons, Simpson Millar and EAD – given the need to find different ways to handle PI work now.
- Solicitors join forces to purchase more legal practices, WIP and cases
Neil Hudgell Solicitors, the law firm which two years ago launched the website ‘Webuyanyfiles’ targeted at personal injury firms looking to exit the market, has formed a joint venture with national practice Simpson Millar to expand the offering.
Both firms will “invest resources” so that it can move beyond just buying up personal injury and clinical negligence cases.
Whilst it is expected that these will remain the main focus, now any case in the areas of law practised by the two firms will be considered. Both firms also handle professional negligence, while Simpson Millar adds family, probate and commercial. Neil Hudgell, managing director of Neil Hudgell Solicitors, said the default position is that the two firms will share caseloads equally where they both cover the area of practice.
To date his firm has spent £4m on 20 deals with cumulative work-in-progress (WIP) of around £10m, including the purchase of four legal practices, doubling the headcount in the process to around 110.
However, Mr Hudgell said he was surprised by “how slow the stampede to get out of PI has been” this year – possibly because the impact of the new portal fees has not really kicked in.
He emphasised that no deal is too small – one of his acquisitions was of just three multi-track files with £50,000 of WIP on them collectively, which could end up delivering three times that in fees.
Simpson Millar has also been acquiring other practices and caseloads, with deals to date reaching double figures. Its last acquisition – completed in July 2013 – included a £6m book of clinical negligence work.
WHAT’S NEW IN THE IN-HOUSE SECTOR © 2013 Sweet & Maxwell
- In-house counsel slam firm performance in panel reviews as ‘complacent and lazy’
Complacency and laziness are two of the most damning charges levelled at private practice lawyers by corporate clients conducting panel reviews, leading in-house counsel have told The Lawyer.In-house counsel have a litany of complaints around frustrating law firm behaviour, with both lawyers and their hordes of business development executives in the line of fire.
An assessment of significant reviews conducted since the beginning of the year, including Siemens, Financial Conduct Authority, and Colgate Palmolive shows a strong trend of corporates reducing and consolidating the number panel place available. Leading in-house counsel are pressing for enhanced services and keener fee deals.
One leading GC told The Lawyer that one of her biggest bug-bears was “current [panel] firms being complacent and assuming that they don’t have to try because you know them and regard them so highly you will make sure they get through the process”.
Another pinpointed law firm laziness, confusion and arrogance as significant concerns. “A problem is pitch teams that don’t prepare for interviews properly. For example, not knowing the written pitch, being inconsistent, not thinking hard enough about the client and how to show you understand them and then not working out when you are boring the client and shutting up.”
Other in-house heads of legal agreed, with one saying a top-of-the-list pet hate is “law firms that don’t read our questions properly or insist on answering the questions they would rather you had asked”.
Even when law firms and their BD departments make an effort and tone down the arrogance, they can still miss the mark. Firms are advised not to include “lots of standard marketing or business development stuff in the pitch, which is not tailored to your needs or the questions you have asked, so it doesn’t tell you what you need to know to make your decision – or it makes it hard work to find the answer”. Also coming in for criticism are “long and/or disorganised responses that take a lot more time and effort to read and mean you have to search for the answers to your questions”.
Particularly caustic was one GC who slammed law firms for not being “open and honest about their areas of weakness”. Commented the in-house lawyer: “That is really irritating. It is very disappointing when the chat is better than the legal work. Law firms shouldn’t simply rely on their supposed reputations and their positions in the directories.”
However, it wasn’t all one-way traffic as the criticisms didn’t flow exclusively from GCs – senior law firm business development staff at leading firms had their own list of complaints about corporate behaviour during panel reviews.
Heading that list was the growing use of procurement staff in the reviews.
“It is always a bad idea for GCs to allow the process to be led by procurement,” said one leading City figure. “Indeed, some effectively abdicate the process to procurement. Procurement departments will prepare a load of basically generic documents, with very little, if anything at all, being tailored to legal services. What I want to see on the first page of a panel review document is a simple statement of what the GC wants to achieve by the process. Procurement teams are a help when they understand the process. But if they are only used to buying less complex products, such as stationery, it complicates things.”
The growing popularity of on-line tendering systems also drew fire. “They are a complete waste of time,” said one senior BD specialist. “I’m convinced that the submissions are not downloaded, read and compared.”
- In-house lawyers aim for the board
The aspirations of in-house lawyers to become board directors are growing, with one in five seeking executive-level positions on the companies they work.
According to research sponsored by city firm RPC, one-third of general counsel now sit on their company’s board or are regular observers.
Of the 42,000 in-house lawyers surveyed by legal network TerraLex, two-thirds said they are more involved in commercial strategy than five years ago. Nine out of 10 said that they provide broad commercial advice.
RPC managing partner Jonathan Watmough said GCs increasingly expect to become board directors. ‘GCs clearly have a strong appetite to take on a bigger role in the management of the business,’ he said. ‘It is going to be increasingly important for businesses to nurture that ambition.’
But James Blendis, general counsel at mobile operator EE, said it is helpful for GCs to retain independence from the executive board. ‘I’m the company secretary. I’m an officer of the board, but I’m not a board director. That’s probably the best arrangement. We are asked to advise quite often on some quite difficult decisions.
‘I believe it is better to advise in an advisory and to some extent an independent capacity, rather than being in the same position as the other directors.
- Three ways GCs can provide more value to their organizations
Today’s general counsel is tasked with several critical functions that ultimately provide measurable value to their organization. The GC must work in such a way that leads their department to control spending while providing critical services to the organization.
To advance these efforts, the Association of Corporate Counsel offers the ACC Value Challenge, an initiative to “reconnect the value and the cost of legal services.” The ACC Value Challenge is based on the concept that law departments can use management practices that enhance the value of legal service spending – and that law firms can reduce their costs to corporate clients and still maintain strong profitability.
Matthew Fawcett, general counsel of NetApp (which was named this year as an ACC Value Champion) recently outlined three steps that focus on reducing inefficiency and boosting value to the organization. His three-point plan is summarized below:
First, Fawcett says the modern GC needs modern tools. Many of these tools are cloud-based. For example, GCs can start to use: electronic signature technology, contract management and legal holds. By implementing a contract management program, the average turnaround time to close
contracts improved 80 percent for NetApp, “yielding huge efficiency gains,” according to Fawcett.
Cost control is another area GCs need to focus on to create a competitive advantage for the company. According to Fawcett’s statistics, most major law firms have lawyers billing at $600 to $900 per hour, and “the $1,000/hour ceiling has been shattered in all major cities.”
Given this trend, GCs need to contain costs. Fawcett recommends cultivating a healthy ecosystem of relationships with outside counsel and other legal service providers, which facilitates “open, objective, productive discussions.”
Finally, Fawcett recommends that GCs implement dashboards and analytics to better manage their law departments and manage outside legal costs.“Through the use of analytics, we make transparent commonly-elusive issues around appropriate staffing and billing,” Fawcett explained.
Fawcett and Connie Brenton, NetApp’s director of legal operations and chief of staff, realized that in order to provide flexible, efficient and high-quality legal services to NetApp’s growing business, it would have to do away with the traditional model of reliance on outside counsel and outside service providers.
- Top female in-house counsel get paid a lot less
A recent survey indicates that pay equality is not the norm in the upper reaches of the in-house counsel world.
Women lawyers working in top in-house jobs make significantly less than their male counterparts, a recent survey found. General counsel and chief legal officers were paid average total cash compensation of $575,200, compared to $723,700 for men in the same position
- Cybersecurity a top concern for general counsels
Cybersecurity should be a top concern for all law department members – not just general counsel.
Cybersecurity is no longer just the purview of IT departments, but rather the concern of entire organizations, from workers who bring their own devices to the office all the way up to the highest C-level executives, and this includes a crucial role for general counsels.
- Heinz lawyers among 250 jobs at risk in UK and Ireland
In-house lawyers at global food conglomerate Heinz are facing redundancy in the UK and Ireland after the ketchup-maker cut 600 office positions across the US.
Sources have told The Lawyer that a number of senior people within Heinz’s legal team are looking to leave the business after it was made clear that their jobs were in jeopardy. European general counsel Janice More declined to comment on the number of positions under threat.
In a statement Heinz said: “After a comprehensive evaluation process, the company has developed a proposed new streamlined structure for Heinz UK & Ireland.
- In-house group to battle Law Society for training market
England’s leading group of in-house lawyers is facing a commercial battle with its own professional body for the training market following a recent split over independence.
The Commerce & Industry Group, which has 6,000 corporate and individual members, divorced from the Law Society earlier this year, sacrificing an annual grant in favour of being able to chart its own strategic path. It is now bracing to go head-to-head with Chancery Lane, as the representative body attempts to bump up its income through expanded commercial offerings.
The Law Society’s year-old in-house division is understood to be boosting its programme of events for the corporate and public in-house sectors, which include an annual conference, networking sessions and training for in-house solicitors.But the C&I Group’s recently elected chairman, Mark Harvey, maintains his organisation offers in-housers far better services. “The C&I Group is strong on training, whereas the Law Society’s division isn’t,” he told The Lawyer last week. “That’s part of the reason for our independence. The society’s division is just starting to run a few seminars, but it is not doing the big-scale events we do.”
WHAT’S NEW IN THE BAR © 2013 Sweet & Maxwell
- Important changes to Public Access training
The Bar Standards Board has announced that new training requirements for public access barristers will come into force in autumn 2013. From that time, all existing public access barristers will have 24 months to undertake additional top-up training or cease to conduct public access work, while anyone doing the training for the first time will have to complete the new course.
- QC slams Inner Temple over high rents as chambers bails to City
London’s historic Inns of Court run the risk of pricing themselves out of the barrister market unless they slash their rents and improve services, a silk at a leading criminal set has warned as his set shifts to City offices.
Inner Temple chambers 6 King’s Bench Walk has moved within the last few days to refurbished offices near the City’s Cannon Street railway station. The chambers has bought offices in College Hill but is retaining the 6KBW branding.
“Rents at the inns are not set at a level that we expect for the standard of accommodation,” 6KBW College Hill’s Mark Dennis QC, a member of the chambers’ management committee, told The Lawyer. “They are much too expensive for what they offer.”
Dennis said he was convinced that his view was generally shared across the bar and he anticipated that other sets – especially those on tight budgets – would move away from the inns in the near future. “If the inns don’t adjust their position and address the problems being faced by sets doing publicly funded work, then there will be real difficulties,” he warned.
The inns are also constrained by their own architectural history. “Inner Temple, in common with the other inns, is in a highly protected conservation area,” said Maddams. “Modernising the buildings in those areas is an expensive business and we have to seek to recover the cost of recent renovations over the last five years, again through rental income.”
Ultimately, Maddams maintained the Inner Temple and the inns generally “are still good value. We offer a lot of collegiate services – such as a world class library and catering – that those barristers leaving will miss”.
- Devereux Chambers expands tax practice
Devereux Chamber has expanded the tax practice through the addition of Jolyon Maugham who joins the set from 11 New Square.
The set said it had seen an increased demand for contentious tax advice driven by a rise in the number of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) investigations.
Tax head Timothy Brennan QC commented: “Contentious tax is an increasingly hot topic, and HMRC has become much more pro-active in litigating cases and particularly in tackling aggressive tax.
- Dissolving Tooks Chambers blames legal aid cuts for demise
High-profile human rights and civil liberties set Tooks Chambers has announced it is to dissolve, blaming the government’s legal aid cuts for its demise.
The set, led by Michael Mansfield QC, posted a release on its website this morning, stating: ‘It is with great regret that Tooks Chambers has decided to begin the process of dissolution.’
The statement said: ‘The dissolution of chambers is the direct result of government policies on legal aid.
‘The public service we provide is dependent on public funding. 90% of our work is publicly funded. The government policies led by justice secretary Chris Grayling are cumulatively devastating the provision of legal services and threatening the rule of law.’
Rumours over the demise of the set have been widespread since a number of high-profile members departed for other sets.The statement said Mansfield and others are ‘actively pursuing’ the possibility of ‘reconfiguring resources’ in order to create an ‘alternative working model’ based on an ‘electronic hub and a compact physical space’.
It said its plans are designed particularly ‘to support publicly funded practitioners who are committed to continuing the struggle for social justice both inside and outside the courts.’
The statement said that the set will formally dissolve on 27 December, but that it will continue to accept briefs until it winds up its operations on 11 October.
WHAT’S NEW IN THE PUBLIC & ACADEMIC SECTORS © 2013 Sweet & Maxwell
- Co-op Legal Services partners with university to train solicitors online Co-operative Legal Services (CLS) has announced a partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University to train aspiring lawyers through online teaching.
The business, which last week revealed losses of £3.4m in the first half of this year, today revealed details of its academy scheme to improve access to legal careers and provide greater professional development opportunities for its legal, managerial and business support staff.
It says that its existing apprenticeship scheme will combine with the university’s postgraduate programmes to enable employees to progress from an apprentice role to that of qualified lawyer.
CLS said it seeks to provide ‘market-leading development for trainee solicitors’. The academy scheme will also continue to use qualification routes offered by other bodies including CILEx, Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and the Chartered Insurance Institute. Movement through career pathways will be assessed on individual performance and success rather than traditional progression based on length of service.
CLS says that the academy’s approach to legal education has been designed to reflect the changing shape of the legal services market and create a workforce more aligned to the rise of alternative business structures.
With university education costs rising, CLS suggests its academy will also have a ‘positive, socially inclusive’ impact by broadening routes in to legal careers.
A spokesman said that the training will be free to staff, with the costs borne by CLS, though he was unable to estimate how much it would cost the business.
- Getting IT right
The lack of 21st century IT in a £300m world-leading litigation centre is starting to resemble a national embarrassment.Public sector IT disasters are among those perennial stories, a bit like politicians having affairs or footballers being paid eye-watering wages. But revelations that the Rolls Building won’t have a fit-for-purpose IT system until next year at the earliest are bad news for everyone, including UK plc.
The fact we still don’t have anything remotely suitable for the 21st century in a £300m world-leading litigation centre is starting to resemble a minor national embarrassment.
As well as throwing away taxpayer money we risk losing business to our more technologically advanced global competitors.
While it is important to shed light on the time this beleaguered project is taking to complete, if the IT takes the form of a genuinely modern, cost-effective, off-the-shelf system when it finally arrives the project will deserve everyone’s support.
It may be unwise to speak too soon, but the Supreme Court’s replacement of its IT system next year could be a positive move in this direction. Although we don’t yet know the supplier and cost, the court is now talking about making ‘considerable savings’ by switching its troubled £1m IT system to a new provider.
The UK cannot afford to continue running its commercial courts for a paper-based world in what is now a digital era. So any attempts that look like a departure from the old ways of doing technology ought to be welcomed.
- Kent County Council to review outsourcing of legal services
Kent County Council is to review the outsourcing of its legal services department, as part of a controversial assessment of contracting out nearly all of the council’s services.
The council’s Transformation Plan, seen by the Gazette, is part of a move to save £240m in a climate of ‘unparalled austerity’. Council leader Paul Carter appealed to employees to back the programme. ‘I am personally asking you to support the approach we have set out in this plan,’ he wrote.
‘The scale of the change required is so fundamental that the traditional way KCC has delivered change to its services will be insufficient.’ The legal services department will be one of the council’s first functions under review in phase one of its outsourcing programme, which will begin in October and run for six months. Kent intends to complete its outsourcing programme by April 2016. ‘KCC has a strong track record operating as a commercial provider to deliver successful and competitive traded services, for example our nationally recognised legal services,’ the document said.
‘We will build on this success to explore the most appropriate business models that will allow us to exploit market opportunities and further maximise our trading potential.’
Kent County Council was one of the first legal service teams to become a business in its own right and generate external income from outside the authority. It now sells services to more than 300 other public sector bodies.
- UK enters global online university race
The UK’s biggest online university project has been launched, with more than 20 universities offering free courses.
Students will be able to follow courses on mobile phones as well as computers.
The UK’s project, called FutureLearn, sees UK universities entering the global market in so-called Moocs – massive open online courses. It could “revolutionise conventional models of formal education”, says universities minister David Willetts.
Mr Willetts, speaking at the British Library, said that the expansion of access to higher education was no longer necessarily about “bricks and mortar”.
He said that the FutureLearn partnership would help to serve the unmet demand for university courses, particularly overseas.The launch of FutureLearn sees 21 UK universities, plus Trinity College Dublin and Monash University in Australia, offering courses that are taught and assessed on the internet.
The UK universities include Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Nottingham, Warwick, Bristol, Reading, Southampton and the Open University, which has headed the project.
The British Library, British Museum and British Council will make material available to students.
- 1ST ANNUAL LAW FIRM LEADERSHIP FORUM
Date: Tuesday 5 November 2013
Venue: Grange St Paul’s Hotel, 10 Godliman Street, London EC4V 5AJ
Transform your business strategy to get ahead of the game.
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Date: 5-6 November 2013
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Understand how the latest legal developments will affect your business practice and corporate strategy.
- JUDICIAL REVIEW CONFERENCE 2013
Date: Thursday 21 November 2013
Venue: Bloomsbury Hotel, 16-22 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3NN
This annual conference offers a complete and practical analysis on the key cases, legal arguments and strategies in judicial review and their likely affect on practitioners in the field.
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Date: Thursday 5 December 2013
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Date: Friday 6 December 2013
Venue: Cavendish Conference Centre, 22 Duchess Mews, London W1G 9DT
Hear from distinguished criminal experts on emerging case law, important legislative developments and changes to rules and practices. Expert speakers will offer practical insight into tackling the latest legal issues and challenges, allowing you to clarify new legal concepts and walk away with a more robust practice.
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Now in its 19th year, this conference is ideally timed for you to gain a head-start on planning law in 2014. The new interactive presentation formats are designed to ensure that you are constantly engaged with the speakers and to maximise your understanding. Hear from planning regulators and planning law professionals, all experts in their field.
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