Age of just-about-OK ethics has passed

Age of just-about-OK ethics has passed

Once, not long ago, considerations of ethics were simple for law firms, if they bothered thinking about them at all. If what they were advising on was legal, however morally questionable, it was all good. Professional ethics? You didn’t need to worry – they were lawyers.

Those halcyon days are passing. Consider the convulsions in the profession regarding non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and their rampant use covering up harassment, a debate that has simmered for a year now. This topic skewers the profession on two fronts – NDAs have not only been used by law firms as a means of concealing poor behaviour by partners towards staff but they drew up the gagging agreements used by business at large. Continue reading “Age of just-about-OK ethics has passed”

‘A safe space’: SRA pushes ahead with innovation agenda

‘A safe space’: SRA pushes ahead with innovation agenda

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) yesterday (12 April) announced plans to formalise its innovation ‘safe space’ – which allows firms to develop new ideas for business lines and products that could test regulatory boundaries – with the aim of fostering innovation within the legal industry.

The initiative seeks to simplify the existing waiver process from regulatory enforcement and make the criteria clearer for firms when applying for regulatory exemptions to pursue new business models. Continue reading “‘A safe space’: SRA pushes ahead with innovation agenda”

‘Embarrassed’ Mishcon partner ‘condemns’ Presidents Club conduct as SDT suspends assault solicitor – more to come for the profession?

‘Embarrassed’ Mishcon partner ‘condemns’ Presidents Club conduct as SDT suspends assault solicitor – more to come for the profession?

Law may have a reputation as a relatively staid career but it was inevitable that the profession would be drawn into the widening debate about the treatment of women sparked by last year’s reports of harassment in the film industry.

Following the latest controversy to grip business, Mishcon de Reya today (25 January) issued a statement of contrition after it emerged that one of its partners attended the controversial City charity dinner at the centre of a Financial Times report alleging harassment. Continue reading “‘Embarrassed’ Mishcon partner ‘condemns’ Presidents Club conduct as SDT suspends assault solicitor – more to come for the profession?”

Clifford Chance partner Panayides to face SDT over Excalibur involvement

Clifford Chance partner Panayides to face SDT over Excalibur involvement

In another twist in the Excalibur professional negligence saga and a clear sign of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) clamping down on lawyers at the City’s top firms, a case management hearing over Clifford Chance (CC) disputes partner Alex Panayides took place at Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) on Friday (24 November) following an investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

First reported on RollOnFriday and according to a daily cause list published by the SDT, the hearing over Panayides took place at midday, with the SRA being represented by Capsticks litigator Daniel Purcell. Continue reading “Clifford Chance partner Panayides to face SDT over Excalibur involvement”

‘Meagre and inadequate’: Hammond’s Budget sees £600m stripped from Ministry of Justice

‘Meagre and inadequate’: Hammond’s Budget sees £600m stripped from Ministry of Justice

While yesterday’s (22 November) lukewarm autumn Budget saw fresh cash boosts handed out to the NHS and Ministry of Defence (MoD), chancellor Phillip Hammond’s financial forecasts revealed a £600m reduction in Ministry of Justice (MoJ) spending by 2019/20.

Hammond’s plans show that the budget for the MoJ for the 2017/18 financial year stands at £6.6bn, but that figure slips to £6.2bn for 2018/19 and then £6bn for 2019/20. The £600m reduction in funding represents a 9% drop. Continue reading “‘Meagre and inadequate’: Hammond’s Budget sees £600m stripped from Ministry of Justice”

Comment: The Legal Services Act ten years on – still waiting for the Big Bang

Comment: The Legal Services Act ten years on – still waiting for the Big Bang

As our October/November issue hits desks, it will be ten years since the Legal Services Act gained Royal Assent, ushering in the most liberal services market in the world by some margin. Given that span of time, and the five years since the most radical elements of the act came into force with the regime for alternative business structures (ABS), it is natural to ask if it has lived up to billing.

There clearly was an impact of sorts, supporting an environment where new business models and fresh thinking were encouraged. That renewed the legal ambitions of the accountants, encouraged the pioneering UK launch of Slater and Gordon, and made Co-op as close as we have got to Tesco law. After a slow initial start there are now over 700 licensed ABSs in England and Wales, representing a significant chunk of the market. Also significant is the messy regulatory fallout and ongoing turf war that it triggered, which has continued with varying degrees of intensity ever since. Continue reading “Comment: The Legal Services Act ten years on – still waiting for the Big Bang”

The Legal Services Act ten years on – still waiting for the Big Bang

The Legal Services Act ten years on – still waiting for the Big Bang

As this issue hits desks, it will be ten years since the Legal Services Act gained Royal Assent, ushering in the most liberal services market in the world by some margin. Given that span of time, and the five years since the most radical elements of the act came into force with the regime for alternative business structures (ABS), it is natural to ask if it has lived up to billing.

There clearly was an impact of sorts, supporting an environment where new business models and fresh thinking were encouraged. That renewed the legal ambitions of the accountants, encouraged the pioneering UK launch of Slater and Gordon, and made Co-op as close as we have got to Tesco law. After a slow initial start there are now over 700 licensed ABSs in England and Wales, representing a significant chunk of the market. Also significant is the messy regulatory fallout and ongoing turf war that it triggered, which has continued with varying degrees of intensity ever since. Continue reading “The Legal Services Act ten years on – still waiting for the Big Bang”

Law Society settles ‘mortifying’ market abuse case with training provider

Law Society settles ‘mortifying’ market abuse case with training provider

In a move that should draw a line under a controversial competition dispute, the Law Society has settled with online training provider Socrates after it was found to have abused its dominant market position by the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) over training tied to its conveyancing accreditation scheme.

Socrates had issued the claim last year, alleging that the Law Society’s requirement for law firms to buy anti-money laundering (AML) and mortgage fraud training from it as a condition to maintain their Conveyancing Quality Scheme Accreditation (CQS) was anticompetitive. Continue reading “Law Society settles ‘mortifying’ market abuse case with training provider”

Bar watchdog issues public apology to silk over Djibouti allegations

Bar watchdog issues public apology to silk over Djibouti allegations

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has today (19 September) issued a highly unusual apology to Serle Court’s Khawar Qureshi QC after the senior barrister was subjected to a year-long investigation over unfounded misconduct allegations.

The matter turned on Qureshi’s representation of East African republic Djibouti in a high-profile civil fraud case between the state and the businessman Abdourahman Boreh. In April 2015 another barrister involved in the proceedings made three allegations that the silk had misled High Court judge Justice Flaux.

Continue reading “Bar watchdog issues public apology to silk over Djibouti allegations”

Guest post: You’re masterful, Mr President: Standards of proof debate takes odd turn

Guest post: You’re masterful, Mr President: Standards of proof debate takes odd turn

There are some interesting comments highlighted in a story on Legal Futures this month  by the president of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) regarding a BSB consultation.

‘The SDT will remain the master of its own destiny in this debate. Its membership will do what it believes to be right in a rational, informed, evidence-based manner. Continue reading “Guest post: You’re masterful, Mr President: Standards of proof debate takes odd turn”