Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

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

September 29 2023

Editorial contact: fennell.edward@yahoo.com

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

– DISAPPOINTING SCHOOL REPORT?

Legal education facing tunnel vision?

For you, dear reader, your legal education may already be lost in the mists of time. Nonetheless the training and development of the current generation of young, aspirant lawyers is crucial to the long term success of UK Law LLP. So it was alarming to read in the press today that BPP University, which provides courses in law and accountancy, had been rated in the bottom division of this year’s Office for Students’ league table for teaching standards. Even more alarming, it appeared that BPP was one of just two higher education establishment in the whole country and across all subjects which was deemed to require ‘improvement in their student experience rating’.

Puzzling? Certainly so. On its website BPP claims that it is ‘exclusively educating professionals in 4 out of 5 Magic Circle law firms and that it is scoring 4.1 out of 5 on TrustPilot.

No doubt there is scope for much fine legalistic debate about the meaning of the ratings. Certainly when BPP arrived on the legal education scene in London a couple of decades ago it was regarded as a breath of fresh air, both energetic and student—focused. Its subsequent achievement of university status was a breakthrough moment. But it looks now as if some sorting out is required. High quality legal education is critical to the continued success of the profession in this country. Don’t let it fade away.

The LegalDiarist

In This Week’s Edition

LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

Mosaic Makes Memories

‘He’s One of Our Own’

Clarke Wilmott Backs Social Housing

Refs Whistle on Tour de Law

CONTRIBUTED ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

Surrogacy law – improvements are in sight

by Alexis Hille and Sarah Hutchinson, Farrer & Co LLP

LEGAL COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

on HS2, events at GB News, sick employees

LEGAL APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK

at Gherson Solicitors and Irwin Mitchell

LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

Mosaic Makes Memories

Mosaics are a powerful and unique way of celebrating powerful and distinctive individuals. Just think of those powerful images in Ravenna of Theodora, the Byzantine Empress, from the sixth century. Now #LegallyHers has done something similar in the Ashworth Centre in Lincolns Inn for the eponymous pioneering barrister Mercy Ashworth (left), one of the first two women from the Inn, who was called to the Bar in January 1923 at age 54.

The fact that Ashworth was in her 50s when admitted was not unusual for her generation – there was a whole cadre of older women who had been waiting on the sidelines for reform to permit them to become professionally qualified (Cornelia Sorabji, Amy Edwards and Emily Phipps were even older). But that, of course, was a tribute to her perseverance.

The mosaic portrait of Ashworth was made by multimedia artist Rocco Fazzari and is derived from hundreds of photographs of women of Lincoln’s Inn which were taken during 2023 by Marcus Jamieson-Pond . 

Thank you to all those who supported the creation of this centenary artwork to help us to change the face of the legal profession through artwork,” said LegallyHers “This commission follows a number of artworks we created for organisations including the Supreme Court, the Law Society, University of Glasgow and private law firms such as Ashursts. We were commissioned to make this bold and original artwork to hang in the Ashworth Centre as a visual legacy of the past and present of women in the law – one that can be passed on to the next generation.”

The next generation, almost certainly – but will it last for 1600 years like Theodora?

He’s One of Our Own’

Dane Murphy – Sitting in the Red Corner

Nottingham Forest football club is now in the Premier League and so too is its former CEO, Dane Murphy, who has joined Lawrence Stephens as a Consultant. The firm’s sports and entertainment practice had already slotted home some good results during the Summer break not least by being involved in the very high profile (and much debated) transfer of Harry Kane from Spurs to Bayern Munich.

Dane, in his mid-30s,  joins Director Mohit Pasricha, Senior Associate Jake Cohen and Associate William Bowyer in the Lawrence Stephens sports squad adding real life sports management experience to this thrusting forward line. In addition to his time at Forest, Dane also had experience at Barnsley FC, as well as being Technical Director to Major League Soccer club DC United.

“Dane is already adding incredible value to our team and the insights and expertise he’s able to provide has been a great complement to the team’s offerings,” commented Jake Cohen,. “His experience leading football clubs and his understanding of the global football landscape on both a macro and micro level is unparalleled. As our team continues to grow and strengthen, we look forward to working with Dane more closely over the coming months, and it is a pleasure to welcome him to the team!”

Mind you, football is not the only game the Lawrence Stephens’ team is interested in. As they point out, their client list includes boxers, mixed martial artists, golfers, drivers, cricketers, eSports athletes, artists, entertainers as well as influencers and businesses , clubs, agencies, managers and executives across the sport and entertainment sectors. A squad, you might say, great in depth.

Clarke Wilmott Backs Social Housing

Britain has a housing crisis. Currently more than 100,000 households in the UK are believed to be living in temporary accommodation. For those of us who rememberer the Ken Loach TV drama Cathy Come Home from the 1960s it is almost incomprehensible that there has been so little improvement in the intervening period. But that’s the sad state of things.

Nonetheless, every little helps and  Clarke Willmott is doing its bit by has signing up to support a new initiative aimed at highlighting the need for new homes for social rent.

 Build Social is a new campaign launched by Inside Housing, a publication for housing professionals which s calling on political parties to commit in their General Election manifestos to funding ‘a substantial programme of homes for social rent’. The goal is that everyone in the UK should have access to a stable, affordable home.

“The Build Social campaign is calling on political parties to commit to building 90,000 social rented homes a year in England, 7,700 in Scotland and 4,000 in Wales,” explained Vicky Kells, a partner and joint head of Clarke Willmott’s social housing sector “These are big numbers but the idea is putting delivery on the political map. We have joined the campaign alongside some heavy hitters in the housing sector from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) to the charity Crisis and we hope that by advocating for change, collectively we can make a difference.”

Let’s hope that they do.

Refs’ Whistle Stop Tour de Law

Maybe it is no surprise to hear that Wayne Barnes (left), a partner at Squire Patton Boggs, is also a rugby union referee. For those of us who have always believed that you needed a law degree – or at least a legally-trained mind – to really understand the rules of the oval ball game it is good to know that a forensic intelligence is being deployed on the pitch.

Anyway it has been announced – on this the final day of registration – that a surprise guest team of Rugby World Cup referees led by Barnes will participate in this years Tour de Law breast cancer fundraiser on 11 October by riding their ‘fixed bikes’ in Paris.

Barnes has had an extraordinary career as a rugby referee from a very young age and with. a number of key firsts to his credit on the international stage. Meanwhile, in the law, he has also made his mark on sports administration having conducted investigations and reviews for the British Judo Association, England Boxing and England Hockey.

Quite what his performance on a fixed bike will be like as part of the Tour de law remains to be seen but it is likely to be high-powered. Maybe disappointingly, he and his fellow refs do notq ualify to compete as an official team for the Tour de Law’s grand prix. But they can still raise plenty of money for this very good cause

The deadline to sign up for this year’s Tour de law is TODAY. So, if you feel that your legs are starting to pump, go to https://tourdelaw.breastcancernow.org 

CONTRIBUTED ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

Surrogacy law – improvements are in sight

Alexis Hille and Sarah Hutchinson, Farrer & Co LLP

Alexis Hille
Sarah Hutchinson

Surrogacy has become a more common route to parenthood in recent years. However, the law in England relating to surrogacy and parental rights has not developed at the same rate. The legal uncertainties around surrogacy have resulted in prospective parents increasingly pursuing surrogacy arrangements abroad.

In recognition of this, the Law Commission published a report in March 2023 recommending some changes to improve the framework for intended parents who rely on UK surrogacy arrangements. In particular, the proposed reforms will make it possible for the intended parents to be the child’s legal parents from birth, which is not the case currently and which causes understandable concern to both intended parents and surrogates.

In addition to empowering parents to make crucial decisions for the child during the first few months of life, enabling recognition of legal parenthood from birth would have important implications for the child’s rights; this may include, for example, the right to claim against a deceased intended parent’s legal estate if that intended parent were to die without a Will. Legal parenthood could also mean the difference between the child being treated as a member of the beneficial class of an existing family trust, or not.

When new trusts are created with the possibility of surrogacy in mind, the drafting can ensure that children born via surrogacy are included in the beneficial class. Uncertainty can arise in the context of existing family trusts, depending on the way in which the beneficial class is defined and whether there are any exclusions (such as illegitimate children). It will depend, in part, on the governing law of the trust, as well as potentially the law of the relevant surrogacy jurisdiction and the jurisdiction where the child is habitually resident. Where there is any doubt, and of course subject to respecting any applicable exclusions, the simplest solution may be to rely on the trustees’ power (if available) either to add the child specifically by name or to add a new class of beneficiaries which specifically includes children born via surrogacy.

LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK

TOPIC: Possible cancellation of HS2

COMMENT BY: Sarah Beer, Partner at Excello Law and compulsory purchase and compensation specialist (who is acting for people and families impacted by the three phases of HS2).

“Any decision to scrap Phase 2 will infuriate many. Countless business owners and several county, district and city councils will be outraged by the decision to pull the plug on the scheme after so many years and so much effort has been spent on planning and investment. In the case of Phase 2a (between the West Midlands and Crewe) many properties have already been compulsorily acquired, turning people’s lives upside down.

“While many will be relieved that the scheme will not go ahead between Birmingham and Manchester, they will feel bitter about the years of mental and financial anguish they’ve been put through. Years when this section of the project made its way through the Parliamentary processes while the properties along the route were blighted, the planning process and in many cases where people’s homes, farms and other businesses have been compulsorily purchased from them.

“Properties affected by Phase 2b (the only remaining section north of Crewe, between Crewe and Manchester) have been blighted already for a period of 10 years since the proposed route was first announced in 2013. Property owners have understandably been put off investing in their homes and businesses knowing the money will be wasted if the property is ultimately demolished, and without the certainty of knowing they will be able to recover all such investment costs from the Acquiring Authority.”

TOPIC: Suspension fo  presenter Laurence Fox by GB News following his misogynistic comments about the political journalist Ava Evans

COMMENT BY: Jo Mackie, Director and Head of Employment Law at Lawrence Stephens.

“The comments made by GB News host Laurence Fox are demeaning, derogatory and misogynistic – constituting hate speech and discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

“Employers have a vicarious liability for the actions of their employees both in and outside the workplace setting, and GB News therefore must make it plan that there is no place for hate speech on their channel, and within their organisation.

“While Fox has been suspended, pending investigation, questions must be asked of the broadcaster and about its employment protections and workplace culture more broadly, and it is vital that such issues are addressed quickly and effectively.”

TOPIC: Increasing levels of sickness with days off per worker rising to 7.8 per annum from 5.8

COMMENT BY: James Townsend, employment law Partner at law firm Payne Hicks Beach

“Employers, as a matter of best practice, will be wise to consider adding elements of discretion to any enhanced contractual sick pay policies in place from time to time in order that judgment may be exercised over when and if it is reasonable to pay enhanced company sick pay over and above statutory sick pay entitlements and when it is undesirable to do so.


“If absences due to a particular medical issue become regular or long term, employers should consider instructing external specialist occupational health advisers to give guidance on how to facilitate an early but safe return to the workplace.”

TOPIC: The Ockenden Review

COMMENT BY: Greg Almond, Personal Injury lawyer, Rotheras Solicitors

We’ve been instructed on a number of cases involved with the recent maternity scandals across the country and very distressing Ockenden review. With investigations rife in the Nottinghamshire hospital community and Midlands, uncovering a myriad of issues, it’s important to understand that this isn’t just a local issue, this is happening across the world /UK and investigations will be gaining momentum.

APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK

GHERSON SOLICITORS LLP

 Liliya Akhmadullina,(left) a dual qualified lawyer in England & Wales and Russia, is joining the growing sanctions practice at Gherson Solicitors LLP. Previously with Peters & Peters’ business crime department she has considerable experience on multi-jurisdictional compliance and sanctions cases.

Prior to this, however, Akhmadullina had been a principal analyst and head of the Business Behaviour Team at Vigeo EIRIS in London (now Moody’s) where she advised a wide range of multinational corporations and institutional investors on their responsible investment strategies and risks, compliance procedures, and regulatory regimes.  She has also held the roles of legal counsel at the United Nations Development Program’s project in Moscow, and was a lawyer for a human rights NGO in the Czech Republic.

“Liliya is a welcome addition to our dynamic and growing firm.,” said Roger Gherson, founding partner at Gherson Solicitors. “Her vast experience advising individuals, businesses, and governments on their multi-jurisdictional compliance and regulatory matters is an indispensable asset to both our clients and colleagues alike.  We look forward to having her get stuck in and being part of our expanding team.”

IRWIN MITCHELL 

Thomas Hazlewood (left) has joined the Private Client Services team at Irwin Mitchell as part of the firm’s continued drive to strengthen what is believed to be the second largest private client team in the country.

Formerly with HCR Hewitsons, Hazlewood has extensive experience in advising clients on succession and inheritance tax planning including wills, trusts and lasting powers of attorney as well as probate and estate administration. His previous list of clients included business owners, trustees, and trusts and he also has a keen interest in advising rural businesses and land owners.

The Irwin Mitchell team was recently shortlisted as Probate Provider of the Year (North & Midlands) at the British Wills and Probate Awards and being tier 1 in Yorkshire for private client in Legal 500.

“Tom is joining the team in a period of significant growth across the country and it’s a pleasure to welcome him to Irwin Mitchell,” said Andrea Jones, Partner at Irwin Mitchell. He brings a wealth of experience, values and ambition that aligns with what Irwin Mitchell is all about, and I look forward to working with him.”

No rows, firings or spats about Tik Tok in the editorial office of the Legal Diary this week so we intend to be back for more again this time next week. So please continue to send your legal diary news, comments, insights and appointments to

fennell.edward@yahoo.com