Diary news plus insights, commentary and appointments from the legal world
July 28 2023
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SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: PASSION NOT MONEY BRINGS JUSTICE
In a striking interview this morning about the disgraceful Malkinson affair Gareth Peirce, the veteran campaigner for those wrongly convicted of serious crime, made a very important statement. Rather than parroting, as we hear too often, that ‘more money was needed’ to solve the problem of failures by the police and the reviewing bodies she said what really counted was drive, determination, resilience and passion.
Has, somehow, a dreadful malaise penetrated our public institutions from NHS to CPS and Whitehall which means that simply spending more will not deliver results but just add to delay and waste? One would have to be a great optimist to believe that the Malkinson case will actually change anything. But it might, at least, give us an insight into why ‘things just don’t work.’
In This Week’s Edition
+ LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK
– Meysan Makes It to London
– Peer Support for Victims of Catastrophic Injury
– Lawyers Help Journalists Out of A Hole (in their accounts)
– UK Surrogacy Regime Needs a Re-think
+ LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK
about the infected blood inquiry, Prince Harry’s case against the press, and the Supreme Court’s ruling on funding agreements
+ LEGAL APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK
at Harneys and Shakespeare Martineau
LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK
Meysan Makes It to London
With the growing influence of the Middle East over the world of sport (is the ‘World Singles Tiddlywinks Championships’ next in line for an Emirates make-over?) it is no surprise that law firms based in the region are now making their presence felt in London.
The latest arrival is Meysan Partners which has decided to open its first office outside of the Middle East in Berkeley Square in the West End.
“We’re very proud of the success of our business in the region but international expansion has always been part of our ambition,” comments the firm’s founder, Bader El-Jeaan. “As a highly evolved and exciting market, London is an obvious choice that our clients want us to explore. We are confident that this will solidify and strengthen our offering to enable us to better serve our clients with their most complex and challenging disputes.”
The firm already has offices spread across the region including Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi, Lebanon and the UAE (both Dubai and Aba Dhabi) but even so it is a big step across to the UK. So they are playing smart by entrusting the office to John Reynolds, who had more than 15 years experience at White & Case as Head of the London Litigation Department and the Global Co-Head of the Financial Institutions Practice. Good credentials, you might say, for now being head of Meysan London and also firm-wide Head of International Disputes.
“Now, more than ever, London is one of THE preferred locations for international litigation and arbitration, and remains a significant arena in international dealmaking,” commented Reynolds. “Couple that with the incredible pace of economic growth in the Middle East and its ascendency as a global powerhouse in business, and in law, and you have a unique market opportunity.”
Quite right – but elite tiddlywinks needs you too! (go see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUJpGonwm08 – you’ll be hooked!)
Peer Support for Victims of Catastrophic Injury
In what is a highly symbolic as well as practical move JMW Solicitors, based in Manchester, has just appointed as a support manager for catastrophic injury clients Jamie Rhind (above) who sustained a spinal cord injury himself 25 years ago and ‘understands the complexities of rebuilding a life after catastrophic injury’.
In this newly created role Rhind will provide a peer-led support service to clients who have suffered a severe injury, such as to their brain or spinal cord injury. And having worked for most of the past 15 years with the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA), where he headed up its services department, Rhind knows the field with all its sensitivities and complexities inside out.
“JMW does amazing work supporting clients who have sustained a catastrophic injury by helping them to receive the rehabilitation and compensation that will aid them in rebuilding their life,” says Rhind. “My role will enhance that offering and make it more holistic, so that we can ensure that clients who are at the start of their journey have the support they need. That might be ensuring they have access to the benefits payments they are entitled to while their legal case is ongoing or advising them on accessible housing and options around care.”
Rhind believes everyone with a disability should be able to live a fulfilling life. “In the 25 years since my injury, I have completed my studies, carved out a career, got married and become a dad, travelling the world in the process,” he says. “Gaining an insight into living with a disability was incredibly important to me after my injury and I hope I can have a similar impact.”
Lawyers Help Journalists Out of A Hole (in the accounts)
Those of us in the printing trade who have admired the business paper City A.M have been saddened by the way it has recently entered administration. It just shows that in this digital age it takes more than quality journalism to keep oneself afloat. Fortunately there has been saviour waiting in the wings in the slightly unlikely shape of THG (LSE: THG.L) which owns several e-commerce and wellness and beauty brands including MyProtein and Lookfantastic.
So for the time being City A.M. is in safe hands. And maybe a debt of gratitude is also owed to the cross-practice DLA Piper team who worked with the administrators, BDO LLP to make the deal work. Most encouragingly all the current employees of the newspaper will be retained following the completion of the transaction.
“As the City of London’s leading financial newspaper, City A.M. has become a trusted name for insights and analysis,” said Rob Russell, Manchester-based partner in DLA Piper’s Finance, Projects and Restructuring team and Head of UK Restructuring. “We are pleased to have been able to support this transaction which is protecting jobs and allowing the newspaper to continue its reports on stories which are crucial to the success of business across the Capital.”
We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.
UK Surrogacy Regime Needs a Re-think
Next week is National Surrogacy Week (1st-7th August) and there are complaints from lawyers that the UK laws governing surrogacy are no longer fit-for-purpose.
“The UK’s surrogacy law desperately needs modernisation to ensure that surrogacy agreements are consistent, clear, and safe,” says Anuradha Kurl (above) , Partner at Crisp & Co.“The problem lies in the law’s heavy reliance on trust. Even if the child is genetically related to the intended parents, the legal parent is the surrogate when the child is born. As a result, intended parents miss out on crucial moments, such as making medical decisions or being present at birth.”
The result, says Kurl, is that current UK laws have driven some prospective parents to seek surrogacy opportunities abroad. Currently, legal parenthood in the UK can only be transferred after the child’s birth through a parental order or adoption. This process, argues Kurl, is complex, time-consuming, emotionally draining, and financially burdensome. It can also become distressing for intended parents if the child faces medical emergencies during the waiting period. And that’s why some intended parents opt to go for overseas arrangements.
“While foreign options may seem appealing, they come with their own risks, including complex legal regulations that many intended parents are unaware of, leading to potential legal conflicts,” Kurl explains.
“The fundamental issue with the current UK laws is that they fail to prioritise the best interests of the child after birth.”
For more go to: https://surrogacyweek.co.uk
LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK
TOPIC: Judgment of the court on Prince Harry’s claim against NGN:
COMMENT BY: Matthew Gill, a media lawyer at Howard Kennedy LLP
“Today’s judgment is fatal to Prince Harry’s phone hacking claim against The Sun and the News of the World. The court simply did not believe Prince Harry’s claim that there had been a “secret agreement” between NGN and the royal household that the royals would put their phone hacking claims on ice. Instead, the court decided that Prince Harry had delayed too long in bringing those claims.
But Prince Harry will be pleased with today’s judgment. He has been allowed to proceed with his claims that the newspapers hired private investigators to use unlawful information gathering techniques to obtain private information about him. There will be a trial next year, when we can expect to see Prince Harry back in the witness box continuing his battle to hold the media to account.
NGN will be disappointed by today’s judgment, particularly that the judge postponed deciding whether Prince Harry’s unlawful information gathering claims were brought too late until the trial. No doubt that the newspaper group will have been keen to avoid a showdown against Prince Harry like the one the Mirror Group faced earlier in the year. But now, unless they make Prince Harry a settlement offer he can’t refuse, they will have no choice.”
TOPIC: The evidence of Prime Minister at the Infected Blood Inquiry
COMMENT BY: Des Collins, Senior Partner at Collins Solicitors representing over 1,500 victims
“My clients will be pleased to hear that the PM recognises the extent of the harm caused to the infected and affected over decades and that he doesn’t intend for his government to add to previous governments’ broken promises. However there’s still no indication on the issue that matters to them most – swift redress. It’s not good enough just to be visibly moved by the victims’ testimonies, Mr Sunak must act now and not wait until publication of Langstaff’s final report, as he promised he was willing to do when he sought the office of PM last summer.
“We hope that the PM leaves the Inquiry today with a deeper sense of personal investment in bringing justice to all those who have waited so long to receive it.”
TOPIC: The ruling of the Supreme Court that litigation funding agreements are not enforceable in competition cases [ R (on the application of PACCAR Inc and others) (Appellants) v Competition Appeal Tribunal and others (Respondents)
COMMENT BY: Garbhan Shanks, commercial litigation partner, Fladgate.
“The Supreme Court’s ruling today that the litigation funding agreements in place for collective proceedings in the Competition Appeal Tribunal are not enforceable because they fall foul of the Damages Based Agreement statutory conditions is clearly an unwanted outcome for claimant side lawyers and funders in this space.
It will be quickly cured, however, with restructured compliant agreements, and the increase in collective and group action proceedings in the UK supported by ever increasing third party funding capacity will continue at pace.”
“Today’s judgment will have a significant and immediate negative impact on the funders in this case and more generally, as they find that their agreements are now potentially unlawful. This will have serious repercussions, particularly for claims that have been brought on an ‘opt-out’ basis which now face the double whammy of their funding agreements not only being in breach of the DBA regulations but also being unable to cure any breach through renegotiation as DBAs are not permitted in opt-out claims.
“Whilst many litigation funders will be reviewing their LFAs and considering their next steps in light of this judgment, the consequences may well not be as widespread as expected. Given that funder returns in many LFAs are structured as multiples of funds invested as opposed to a fixed share of damages, these should therefore fall outside of the DBA regulations.
“Needless to say, the fallout from the issues raised and uncertainty caused by this judgment will have a far-reaching impact on the industry as a whole, and serve to be a retrogressive step for an industry still in its infancy. Overall, a bad day for consumers, funders and lawyers as a whole.”
COMMENT BY: Gary Barnett, Executive Director of International Legal Finance Association (ILFA) and Susan Dunn, Chair of Association of Litigation Funders (ALF)
“We are disappointed by this decision as it runs contrary to the accepted understanding that financing agreements are not damages based agreements (“DBAs”).
The decision is not generally expected to impact the economics of legal finance and will not deter our members’ willingness to finance meritorious claims. It will only affect how legal finance agreements are structured so that they comply with the regulations and individual financiers will have been considering what if any changes are needed to their own legal finance agreements as a consequence of this decision.
It has never been the intention of government, as far as we understand, for funding agreements to be treated as DBAs and in the light of the decision, technical amendments are needed to reclarify the government’s intent when it introduced DBAs and ensure the proper funding of opt-out cases in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT).
The costs involved in bringing opt out competition claims can run into the tens of millions and these cases can take several years to resolve. As DBAs are not permitted in opt out cases in the CAT, this decision has the potential to prevent the intended purpose of the CAT to be fully realized.
This would be a regrettable outcome that could undermine the enforcement of competition law, and lead to a situation where well-funded, repeat litigants, including large multinationals and institutions, are able to gain an unfair advantage over small businesses and consumers.”
LEGAL APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK
Juan Pablo Urrutia (left) is joining Harneys as a partner in its Regulatory & Tax practice group in the Cayman Islands. Formerly at Walker’s Regulatory & Risk Advisory Group, another offshore law firm, where he held a senior role within its Regulatory group, Urrutia has more than two decades of experience providing legal advice to financial services firms acting for ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ side clients, including a ‘bulge bracket’ financial institution, an algorithmic financial technology broker, and one of the world’s oldest sovereign wealth funds.
“We are delighted to welcome JP,” said Harney’s Global Head of Regulatory & Tax, Aki Corsoni-Husain. “His experience and expertise in advising on complicated regulatory issues make him an obvious choice for this role. We believe he will be a valuable addition to our growing global team who are experts in navigating international laws and regulations.”
Harneys comments that the firm’s Regulatory & Tax practice group advises clients across all jurisdictions in which it operates in relation to all aspects of AML compliance and terrorist financing regimes as implemented locally. It adds that ’that it ‘is committed to helping clients comply with the ever-changing international laws and regulations’.
Natalie Owen has joined the Birmingham-based firm Shakespeare Martineau as a new partner to launch and lead its social housing securitisation team. Formerly with Trowers & Hamlins, where she headed up its Birmingham real estate finance security team, Owen has 18 years’ post-qualified experience and is a trusted adviser to a number of not-for-profit and for-profit registered providers, advising them on complex large-scale residential portfolio funding and acquisition projects to maximise their assets.
“We are delighted to welcome Natalie to the firm,” said Louise Drew , head of the building communities team at Shakespeare Martineau. “She has excellent, market-leading expertise and her knowledge will be a real asset to our social housing clients, who she will assist with raising finance to ultimately build more homes, and improve and maintain their existing stock. Given the current strain on finances in the sector, this appointment couldn’t come at a better time for us and our clients.”
Although based in the West Midlands Owen will be working with clients nationally. Her appointment is described by the firm as ‘the latest in a string of new partner hires – including experienced finance solicitor Jon Coane – as part of the firm’s growth strategy, broadening its footprint both north and south’.
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