Edward Fennell’s Legal Diary – Edition 2

Thursday April 2 2020 – Interesting snips from lawyers, law firms and the legal world

The bridge at Canary Wharf – any lawyers there now?


We realised that Brexit was big but it pales into insignificance against the impact of the C-virus which is reshaping our economy, the environment and the workplace daily in front of our very eyes. The immediate human tragedy is enormous. But, paradoxically, the wider ramifications might be progressive depending on which lessons are learned. As life goes on law firms will experience this in microcosm. So the stories in the Legal Diary are not just driven by the virus. There is still legal activity worth noting outside Cell Block Covid19.


Lady Hale might have retired from the Supreme Court but she is clearly going to be around as a major force on the legal scene for a long time to come. The latest in her new roles – announced today – is that she will become the Patron of The Next 100 Years Project, the successor to the 2019 campaign which celebrated a century of women professionally active in the law.  

Building on the popularity of last year’s programme The Next 100 Years says that it will be taking action “To accelerate the pace of change in the legal profession, encouraging collaboration to tackle the inequality that still persists between men and women, improving the visibility of women in law and supporting the women lawyers of the future.”

Lady Hale was the obvious choice given both her highly successful career and her powerful advocacy for women advancing to the highest office. Dana Denis-Smith, founder of The Next 100 Years and CEO of Obelisk Support, says: “Lady Hale is an inspiration to many of us and has long been a vocal advocate for women’s rights. Having her support is very important to us as we strive to be a force for change, bringing the profession together to look at how we can drive progress, giving visibility to the many talented women lawyers out there and supporting and inspiring those starting out in their careers.”

Among The Next 100 years institutional supporters are The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), the Law Society, the Bar Council and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx).


There is lots of legal advice out there on-line from law firms about every aspect of the legal obligations and opportunities – but which is the best?

Certainly most striking in its branding of Covid-19 information is Collyer Bristow (famed for its in-firm art gallery, now closed) which has come up with a powerful (but depressing) jail-bars image slashed with a big yellow V (maybe a bit post-impressionist?). But for me the most effective comes from Kemp Little which has developed in effect a logo – a kind of building grid – which is also the portal to a range of different advice, videos etc. Take a look at www.kemplittle.com and look for Covid19 Toolkit.


Dechert is coming under renewed pressure this week from ‘Detained in Dubai’ over its alleged involvement in human rights abuses in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), one of the smaller emirates of the UAE. The claims relate to the investigation, interrogation and incarceration of Mr Karam Sadeq, a possible witness to a white collar crime case, and are so alarming, says Detained in Dubai, that it is drafting a request for urgent intervention by the United Nations in Geneva.

Unsurprisingly the circumstances are complicated but the charge against two current Dechert lawyers, Neil Gerrard and Caroline Black, along with their former colleagues David Hughes (now a partner at Stewarts Law), is that contrary to UAE federal laws they pressurised Mr Sadeq and his family to provide false testimony and confessions which would incriminate his former employer and colleagues at the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority.

In a claim before the High Court the suggestion is made that, as part of a programme of intimidation, Mrs. Sadeq was told by both Gerrard and Hughes that her husband would be jailed indefinitely if he did not “cooperate”, and that she herself could be imprisoned and her children put up for adoption. David Hughes allegedly told her “this is how things work in the modern world.”

“In Detained in Dubai’s 12 years of operation, we have seen the prevalence of forced confessions, human rights violations and even torture in the UAE,” said Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, who is representing Karam Sadeq. “However, this is the first time that we have seen a claim against British lawyers for torture”.


As fear mounts about a potential increase in domestic violence resulting from the C-virus lock-down, the National Centre for Domestic Violence has advised victims they can set up Court-protected safe zones within their own homes. The toxic combination of the stress of confinement to avoid infection with the enforced company of a violent partner adds another layer of anxiety to those who have already been attacked. In response, non-molestation orders (NMOs), which the organisation already helps thousands to secure every year, may be used to demarcate an area within the home which is out-of-bounds to their abusers.  Breaching a NMO is an offence punishable by up to 5 years in ,prison.“We are witnessing the acute distress of victims unable to leave the same flat or house where they’re suffering from abuse,” says chief executive Mark Groves. 

“Previously, they or their partner might have moved out or have been ordered to leave by a Court.  Now that option is often closed. Couples are being forced to stay together due to lack of money, limited spaces in refuges and public restrictions on movement.”

Once again technology can come to the aid of those who want to enforce their rights. “Recently the Courts listened to our pleas to grant Court Orders such as NMOs on line and have them served electronically on abusers.,” said Mark Groves. “Those reforms are really important for victims’ ability to get an Order and set up a court-protected safe zone as quickly as possible.”    

Meanwhile Anna Laura Lock of Winckworth Sherwood says that, “In England & Wales , the Government has confirmed that victims of domestic abuse are able to leave home to flee to refuges notwithstanding the lock-down.In turn, they have confirmed that refuges remain open. The reality is that even in times of free movement it can be difficult for victims to access help and make arrangement to move to a refuge especially when children are involved.”


If you have not already seen it then take a look at Lewis McDonald, Head of Global Energy Sector at Herbert Smith Freehills performing his newly-minted tribute to Self Isolation at https://www.linkedin.com/posts/lewismcdonald_this-one-goes-out-to-all-the-self-isolators-ugcPost-6647123213820264448-pyy9

Maybe it will go down in history – just like Boccaccio’s Decameron written during the Black Death. Have fun where you can. And do let me have your interesting news. fennell.edward@yahoo.com