Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

Diary news, commentary, insights and appointments from the legal world

September 8th 2023

Editorial Contact: fennell.edward@yahoo.com

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: Crystal-ball gazing into a fuzzy future?

Nick Vineall KC (right) – Soothsayer to the legal stars Image courtesy of the Bar Council

Next Wednesday evening (13 September) at the Inner Temple Hall, Nick Vineall KC, the Bar Council chair, will set out how he thinks the Bar will look by 2043. Ambitious, eh? After the events of the past five years predicting events just a couple of years ahead seems a bit of a reach – but 20 years?  Quite apart from all the ‘unknown unknowns’ there is the major ‘known unknown’ of AI. Will robot advocates be already a thing of the past by 2043? Who can even possibly guess.

Apparently Mr Vineall will be looking at increasing meritocracy at the Bar and the difficulty of getting a pupillage. Worthy issues, of course, but surely they can’t be kicked down the road to 2043. If they can’t be cracked in the next five years then, one suspects, they never will be. Like death and taxes they may always be with us. Let’s hope that is true of the Bar Council too – at least until 2043.

The LegalDiarist



In this Week’s Edition


Asian-Jewish Business Network Gets New Sponsor

Serle Court Takes on Insolvency

Farage’s Far-ranging Ripples

Looking Bright On Sunday for Arnold & Porter


Strip-searching, the Arbitration Act, ONS M&A figures, the Economic Crime & Corporate Transparency Bill


At Lowry Legal and Irwin Mitchell



Asian-Jewish Business Network Gets New Sponsor

Not too long ago we reported in the Legal Diary that Axiom Ince were the key sponsor of the  Asian Jewish Business Network (AJBN). Sadly that seems no longer to be the case. In what appears to be a by-product of the firm’s current embarrasment – its former managing partner Pragnesh Modhwadia is facing a freezing order and has been suspended by the SRA – that role has now been taken over by Spector Constant & Williams.

 AJBN seems to be flourishing. It is the only network of its kind promoting business ties between the two communities in the UK and it has been successful in attracting hundreds of CEOs and other leading business figures from the world of finance, property, law etc to share best practice and increase growth

“It is an honour for us to be the headline sponsor for AJBN,” commented George Constant, a Partner at Spector Constant & Williams. “The network is one of a kind and brings together leaders from a range of sectors from both the Asian and Jewish communities to network and share best practice.The ethos behind the AJBN reflects Spector Constant & Williams’ commitment of bringing communities together to work with each other. We are proud to be associated with such an important network.”

The AJBN was set up 2019 and, remarkably, trebled its membership during COVID. Its flagship annual networking gathering has been addressed by leading politicians including Alok Sharma and Suella Braverman and business leaders Sir Lloyd Dorfman and Lord Karan Bilimoria.

Russell Bahar, Founder of the network, said, “We are thrilled to extend a warm and heartfelt welcome to Spector, Constant & Williams law firm – the Asian-Jewish Business Networks newest corporate sponsor. Your decision to partner with us is a testament to your commitment to our shared values and vision, and we are excited about the opportunities this collaboration will bring.”

The AJBN’s annual event takes place on Monday 16 October 2023 at the Business Design Centre in London. 

Serle Court Takes on Insolvency

One of the few sectors of the legal economy which seems to be booming right now is insolvency. “Despite a surprise uptick in GDP in Q2 and the prospect of falling inflation, the outlook for company insolvencies remains bleak,” commented Nick O’Reilly, Director of Restructuring and Recovery at MHA recently. “The aftermath of the government’s inflated pandemic support package, alongside a recovery that has not materialised, will continue to cause large numbers of businesses, both large and small, to fail.”

So that sets the scene for the forthcoming inaugural conference for Serle Court’s insolvency event  ‘Serle Speak’ – an audience with the chambers’ expert insolvency barristers to be held in personat The Law Society on Thursday, 28 September.  “This event is focused on insolvency and restructuring and will see some of our expert insolvency barristers discuss their work and current industry practices,” comments the chambers. “Our members work in all restructuring and insolvency areas, from large corporate insolvencies to personal bankruptcy cases. Insolvency litigation involving allegations of fraud is a key area of strength, drawing on chambers’ expertise in civil fraud matters. Chambers is also well known for company law, trusts, property, and professional negligence work. Our barristers are uniquely placed to assist when these practice areas overlap with insolvency or restructuring issues.”

Chaired by Philip Marshall KC the topics addressed will include ‘Wrongful Trading’ by the counsel team in the BHS litigation (Daniel Lightman KC, Charlotte Beynon , Tim Benham-Mirando) and ‘Recent developments in cross-border insolvency’ (James Mather, Wilson Leung). The guest speaker will be Carmel King (Grant Thornton).

Farage’s Far-Ranging Ripples

What seemed to be just a footnote to the life and career of Nigel Farage could turn out to be his biggest personal legacy to the British political class. In the wake of the hoo-ha following his ostracising by Coutts bank it looks as if things are starting to look brighter for ‘politically exposed persons’ and their personal banking affairs.

“I’m laughing all the way to the bank.” Image courtesy of BBC

This week the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has set out the issues it will consider as part of a review of the treatment of domestic Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) by financial services firms. Among those key issues are whether institutions are effectively communicating with their PEP customers and keeping their PEP controls under review to ensure they remain appropriate (something which particularly agitated, understandably, Fraage).

The review will report by the end of June 2024 and the FCA says that it will ‘take prompt action if any significant deficiencies are identified in the arrangements of any firm assessed’. 

“While the FCA maintains that it cannot change the current PEP regime, and that the rules in place are designed to follow international standards and keep the financial system clean, there are clear indications that the FCA will focus on eliminating unnecessary barriers for public servants and their families,” said Thomas Cattee, head of white-collar crime, regulation and investigations, at Gherson Solicitors.This confirms the FCA’s awareness of the current potentially disproportionate application of the rules, the negative impact it can have on those designated (in some cases, incorrectly) as PEPs, as well as the ripple effects it can have on their family members and close associates.”

 Yes, Farage’s ‘ripples’ are wide indeed.

Things Looking Bright On Sunday for Arnold & Porter

This Sunday, one month to the today ahead of the annual Tour de Law fixed-bike fund-raiser for charity, a peloton from Arnold & Porter will be stretching its legs in a real life road run down to Brighton(https://www.londonbrightoncycle.co.uk/) in support of Action Against Hunger and New Horizon Youth Centre.

Sean Curran, Beatriz San Martin, Simon Firth, James Castro-Edwards, Marc Isaac, Ludovica Pizzetti, Bart Wasiak, Konstantinos Lampropoulos, Nene Shamsaie and Sneha Raval are the gallant pedallers and it looks as if it might leave them abit saddle-sore.

“The 55 mile ride will take us from Clapham Common in London, through Mitcham, Carshalton, Chipstead, Banstead and Haywards Heath, before we take on the challenging one-mile-long climb to the top of the South Dawns at Ditchling Beacon, and then finally arrive in Brighton,” says the firm.

The aim is to raise £1,000 for the charities and the last time we looked they were almost there. But if you would like to give them a push to get them over the line go to London to Brighton bike ride for New Horizon Youth Centre


TOPIC: Reports that a 14-year-old schoolgirl was strip searched by Greater Manchester Police, searching for a vape

COMMENT BY: Seema Dosaj, managing partner and criminal lawyer, at Berris Law

 “Reports this morning of a 14-year-old girl being strip searched without an appropriate adult by GMP looking for a vape, is not only despicable but frightening.  I would like to say surprising, but unfortunately, we have, only too often, become aware of police officers abusing the powers that they have been entrusted with, particularly in relation to stop and search methods on our young people, minorities, women, and vulnerable individuals.

 Minors being strip-searched by police, especially if it’s unnecessary, is deeply concerning and calls for a thorough review of police procedures and protocols. To hear government ministers promising more training, yet again, for officers is simply infuriating. There is a level of common sense that any police officer who has been given extra powers, should have. Strip searching a 14-year-old girl on suspicion of carrying a vape is clearly an unnecessary abuse of power, and not for the first time. The well-being and dignity of young individuals must be a top priority in any law enforcement context.”

TOPIC: The Law Commission’s recommendations to improve the Arbitration Act 1996

COMMENT BY:  Nick Vineall KC, Chair of the Bar Council

 “We welcome the Law Commission’s characteristically careful and balanced review of the Arbitration Act, and we support the proposals for reform which it makes. It is extremely important that the government finds parliamentary time for the short bill which the Law Commission proposes. 

“London has a well-deserved reputation as the foremost centre for International Arbitration. It is important to legislate to make the modest changes to the arbitration regime which the Law Commission has recommended in order to maintain and enhance that reputation.”  

TOPIC: The latest Office of National Statistics’ for mergers and acquisitions activity in the UK (April-June 2023)

COMMENT BY: Howard Taylor, Partner at law firm Payne Hicks Beach

“The ONS figures indicate that there was a slight reduction in M&A activity involving UK companies in Q2 2023 when compared with Q1 2023. This is likely due to higher funding costs and continued uncertainty about the economic outlook. 

“However, the recent comments by the Governor of the Bank of England regarding interest rates and some indications about wider global trends in M&A activity give some cause for optimism that levels of UK M&A activity might gradually improve; and despite the overall slowdown in the UK suggested by the ONS figures, our recent experience suggests there still remains a demand for well-managed, strongly performing businesses in certain sectors.”  

TOPIC: The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill to be considered in the House of Lords next week

 COMMENT BY: Edward Craft, Partner (Corporate), Wedlake Bell

“Professionals and businesses have been patiently waiting for this new law since the Companies House Transformation Project and the Transparency and Trust Consultation were launched by Sir Vince Cable under the coalition government in 2013. The legislation was de-prioritised by successive Prime Ministers after 2015 and was only brought back onto the priority agenda as a knee-jerk reaction to Russian’s invasion of Ukraine.

“An update to procedures and processes at Companies House and the general initiative to improve the quality of data on the register is welcome and long overdue.

“Many of the changes are technical and detailed and will likely take a long time to be implemented, as it is only once Royal Assent is given that Companies House will have the power to undertake much of the enabling work*. However, it is hoped that these changes will bring much of company law processes into the digital era.

“It is frustrating for businesses and practitioners that welcome and positive changes take so long to be delivered. Company law is not one of the political hot potatoes that politicians delight in focusing on, not least because of it complex and technical nature. This legislation has already taken ten years and so it is key that focus is now turned to its effective delivery in the months and years ahead.”



Charlotte Prichard is joining Irwin Mitchell’s Private Client Services team – the second largest  in the country with 50 lawyers nationwide – in the North West as a Senior Associate Solicitor. Previously with Clyde & Co, where she specialised in the administration and taxation of trusts and estates, Prichard  is an active member of The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Manchester committee.

“I’m passionate about helping my clients navigate what can be an incredibly complicated area of law, at what is often a very difficult and emotional time,” she said. “Irwin Mitchell has a great reputation for putting clients first and delivering positive outcomes for them, I’m looking forward to being a part of such a well regarded team.”  

Paula Myers, Director of Private Client Legal Services at Irwin Mitchell, said, “We are committed to providing true expertise in the private client services space, not only in the North West region but across the whole country. Our specialist team continues to go from strength to strength – we’re really focusing on how to achieve the best outcomes for our clients by nurturing our own talent and bringing in the best from the region.”  

Lowry Legal

Family lawyer Michelle Uppal (left) is joining specialist high net worth family law firm Lowry Legal as a partner. This is a prelude to the firm launching a dedicated London office which, says the firm, will ‘expand the firm’s coverage to encompass England’s most prestigious postcodes’. 

Formerly with Miles and Partners, where she headed their matrimonial department, Uppal has almost 25 years’ experience advising on family law matters assisting separating high-net-worth couples with expertise in child arrangements, post-separation finances, and cross-jurisdictional cases. She is recommended by The Legal 500 as a leading mediator and collaborative lawyer.

Lowry Legal’s Managing Partner, Katie McCann commented, “I am delighted to welcome Michelle to our growing yet tight-knit team. Her stellar reputation as one of the best mediators in London and as a perceptive and pragmatic family lawyer speaks for itself. Her guiding mission of helping clients to construct positive onwards relationships represents exactly what Lowry Legal stands for as a firm.” This is Lowry Legal’s second partner hire of 2023, and is part of the firm’s planned expansion.    


We hope that you have enjoyed this edition of the Legal Diary and, maybe, even found it useful.   If so, please note that there will be NO LEGAL DIARY NEXT FRIDAY 15th SEPTEMBER.

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