Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

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

31 May 2024

Editorial contact: fennell.edward@yahoo.com

Donald In Happier Times – The Official White House Photo First Time Round

Pundits are uncertain as to how much marginal damage Donald Trump will suffer following the ‘Guilty’ verdict yesterday by a dozen New Yorkers. This is supposed to be a US General Election in which it will all come down to very small numbers of voters in a select group of states to determine the outcome. But there is (almost) no smaller number than seven men and five women in a jury room. One way or another their impact might swing it.

Trump’s complaint was that the trial was “Disgraceful and rigged” . But veterans of American elections going back over the last 25 years will recall that there have been other occasions when highly controversial circumstances (remember ‘hanging chads’) have shaped the election result. That it may be a trial jury which is so consequential seems somehow appropriate in a democracy.

The LegalDiarist

In this edition

+ LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

New Service Ensures Recruits are Legit

GCs Aiming for The Top

Paras Rush to Awards

Two Reasons to be Proud

+ LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK

on failure of Parliamentary wash-up over deep-fakes and renters’ rights, the Windrush Compensation Scheme and Greenwashing

+ APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK

at Pillsbury and Farrer & Co

New Service Ensures Recruits are Legit

Employers recruiting staff from overseas face a legal minefield. Data from industry recruitment software specialists show that 30% of overseas applications are rejected as they do not have the right to work, while 64% are rejected due to CVs being unclear or requirements not being met. Added to that, the latest government immigration rule changes mean that overseas recruitment costs are continuing to rise for businesses struggling with talent shortages. So it would be good to have a service which has copper-bottomed reliability regarding the legal status of new hires.

That is what is now promised by Immpact which aims to ‘help eradicate profiteering job scammers’ while linking up recuiters with ‘pre-qualified global talent’. The foundations of the business are firmly in the law.Founder and Managing Director of Immpact is Jonathan Beech who is described as having immigration law expertise. And it is on that basis that the Immpact platform says it can ‘unite a previously disconnected global talent market with under-resourced UK employers and transform global workplace migration’.

“Through my existing business running Migrate UK, I’m acutely aware of the issues that UK employers and recruiters are having in trying to fulfil talent shortages,” says Beech. “I also regularly hear terrible stories of genuine overseas job hunters being ripped off in their home countries or the UK by job scammers, often running to thousands of pounds.

 Beech says he was convinced that there had to be a better way to match pre-qualified overseas talent with genuine work opportunities and responsible UK employers. Immpact will now ensure only pre-qualified talent, employers and recruitment firms are placed on its platform following stringent multi-layer checks. This will ensure that all jobs and talent are qualified and genuine along with thoroughly regulated employers and recruiters, to provide a global marketplace for talent. Sounds as if it could be a winner.

For further information visit www.immpact.ai

GCs Aiming for The Top

How can in-house lawyers get on to their organisation’s Executive team and then become an ‘indispensable resource’ for the boss?

That is one of the questions to be addressed at the forthcoming General Counsel (GC) Conference to be organised in mid-June by The Legal Director (TLD) in conjunction with Women in the Law UK. Hosted by Holman Fenwick Willan at their office in Bishopsgate it will be followed by a networking lunch (often, as we know, the most important part of a conference). Other sessions will be devoted to the lessons to learn from being a GC (hosted by Toby Hornett of Crafty Counsel) and what larger legal teams can teach smaller teams (hosted by TLD’s Sarah Clark).

Not only are opportunities like these a great chance to meet other people in the industry, but also a brilliant learning experience,” said Sarah Clark. “There is much benefit in sharing experiences and celebrating wins, and this event is a nice reminder that we can achieve so many fantastic things when we work together towards shared goals.”

Kirstie Penk, CEO of The Legal Director added,“It is an honour to team up with such a prestigious organisation, one with values very closely aligning to our own. We are making great waves in workplace diversity and inclusion, but encouraging and inspiring the next generation of female legal is integral to the industry.”

Alongside Kirstie will be other members of the TLD team, including Sarah Clark, newly appointed Chief People and Transformation Officer and Rachel Webb Wiles, Client Legal Director.

To attend the conference go to  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/general-counsel-in-house-lawyers-conference-tickets-819935778987?aff=ebdsoporgprofile

Two Reasons to be Proud

With its roots in ‘green’ Bristol – regarded as one of the most progressive cities in the UK – Burges Salmon is naturally aligned with the various Pride Weeks which are now taking place across the country through the Summer. Bristol’s is actually in July but Edinburgh, where Burges Salmon also has an office, will be enjoying its celebrations in Mid June.

One of the firm’s lawyers who is taking a stand for the cause is Jordan Coulton (left) , a lawyer in the firm’s Dispute Resolution team and part of Bproud. Already a trail-blazer as one of the first legal apprentices in the country he has also made his mark in another key aspect of his life. Reflecting on his personal journey, he explains, “At age 18 I remember the elation of becoming the first Higher Legal Apprentice in the country which was a new degree apprenticeship scheme to enable school leavers the opportunity qualify as a Lawyer without the need to attend University. I recall getting the call to say I had secured the position and this seemed to be the best day of my life but deep down, this happiness was a distraction. I always felt a dread almost akin to a rain cloud over my head because I was guarding a secret. I went through my teens knowing I was different but coming from a small town near Liverpool, I would always try my best to fit in.

My default would be to shy away from conversations involving relationships until 12 months into my apprenticeship, I attended a session on “Having difficult conversations”. Although the course was aimed at having such conversations with clients, it struck me like lightening I need to have a “difficult” conversation with my family, I needed the weight to be lifted and the dark rain cloud to transcend.

That night, I had a onetoone meeting with my Mum – tears streaming down my face, my hand trembling until I said those four words which changed my life for the better – Mum, I am gay. That is when my journey to accepting myself began and almost 10 years after having that conversation – which was actually the easiest conversation I have ever had – I can safely say that was in fact the best day of my life.”

Paras Rush to Awards

The latest edition of the National Paralegal Awards, hosted by the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) has just opened for entries and will welcome them until 17 June.

This year there will be prizes in15 categories – ‘reflecting the diversity of the paralegal role’ say the organisers. These include National Paralegal of the Year, Community Champion of the Year, Best Law Firm – Paralegal Development, Best Conveyancing/Real Estate Paralegal, Best Family Law Paralegal and the National Paralegal Business of the Year.  The finalists will be announced on 15 July 2024.

One of the patrons of the awards this year is Rita Leat, founder of the Professional Paralegal Register (PPR) and former chief executive of the Institute of Paralegals (IoP).“I’m delighted and honoured to take up this role and will continue to champion the National Paralegal Awards that provide important recognition for the work paralegals do across the sector,” said Leat. 

Craig Hamer CEO of CILEX makes the point that paralegals ‘up and down the country’ are playing a vital role in legal services across a diverse range of specialisms and sectors. “This is a great opportunity to shine a light on their dedication and professionalism as well as championing the organisations that support paralegals to develop and thrive in their careers,” says Harmer. “We are delighted to be hosting the awards which are a real celebration of talent, excellence and innovation across the profession. We look forward to honouring the outstanding contributions and accomplishments of paralegals who are doing invaluable work.”

The awards ceremony will take place on Thursday 5 September at the Burlington Hotel in Birmingham.

TOPIC: The failure to include in the Parliamentary ‘wash-up’ process the proposed legislation to make creating sexually explicit deepfakes an offence

COMMENT BY: Mark Jones, Partner at Payne Hicks Beach 

“It is very disappointing that the offence of making sexually explicit deepfakes has not become law (as announced by the government in April 2024). The proposed amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill failed to make its way through Parliament before the end of the Parliamentary session. It will now fall to the new government and whether they will choose to prioritise this. In the meantime, the law fails to deal with those who make but do not share sexually explicit deepfakes.”

TOPIC: The Financial Conduct Authority’s new anti-greenwashing rule (coming into force today) which will apply to all firms that make claims in relation to the sustainability characteristics of their products or services.

COMMENT BY: Martin Cook, partner. Burges Salmon

The FCA’s new anti-greenwashing rule will require all FCA-authorised firms making sustainability-related claims about their products or services to ensure that those claims are consistent with the sustainability characteristics of the product or service and are fair, clear and not misleading. The rule will apply to a broad range of communications and aims to create a level playing field for firms offering genuinely sustainable choices for their customers. The rule is intended to complement and remain consistent with existing requirements on firms but does highlight the FCA’s focus on tackling greenwashing in the sector and positions sustainability as a priority area for FCA-authorised firms to concentrate on.”

COMMENT BY: Lucy Blake, Partner, Jenner & Block

“The new anti-greenwashing rule, while emphasising practices that regulated firms should already follow, such as making fair, clear, and not misleading statements, puts greenwashing firmly in the FCA’s sights. 

“The FCA is prepared to act against firms posing consumer harm or serious misconduct, with potential penalties including fines and suspensions. And it’s not just the FCA’s scrutiny firms need to watch out for, greenwashing can lead to actions from other UK regulators such as the Competition and Markets Authority and the Advertising Standards Authority, civil claims from consumers, and severe reputational damage.

“Firms need to avoid cherry-picking data and ensure transparency by considering the full life cycle of products in sustainability claims. It’s not a one-time tick-box exercise either – continuous monitoring and updating of a product’s sustainability status is required to maintain compliance. 

“Firms must also be cautious about relying on third-party information, as they are responsible for verifying and transparently sourcing all data.” 

TOPIC: The decision by the High Court that ‘Windrush Victims’ are not entitled to legal aid

COMMENT BY: Shaila Pal, Director of King’s Legal Clinic

This case highlights the need for urgent reform of the Windrush Compensation Scheme and wider systemic reform of Compensation Schemes to ensure equitable practices across all schemes.

There is ample evidence of the deep problems with the WCS and that it cannot be effectively accessed without legal assistance. Unfortunately, this decision operates as yet another road block for Windrush victims to obtain the redress and justice they deserve.”

TOPIC: The failure by the Government to include the Renters Reform Bill in the Parliamentarywash-up’ process

COMMENT BY: Scott Goldstein, Partner at Payne Hicks Beach

‘Politically, the Government’s failure to end no fault evictions is unlikely to do it any favours with younger voters and the renters community more generally – groups it probably should be looking to woo.

Logistically, there are well-founded objections to the proposals as originally drafted, in particular the fact that the court system is presently unable to cope with the increase in work that would flow from landlords having to have recourse to contested possession proceedings to evict their tenants.

The Government still has not properly addressed those objections. While the renters lobby is understandably frustrated at the delay in abolishing section 21 notices, it is important not to solve one problem by creating another one. However the consequence is that we are left with the law in a wholly unsatisfactory state. Renters are unhappy that they can be evicted without good reason, but on the other side of the equation, landlords have to satisfy numerous conditions before they can serve a satisfactory section 21 notice, and the large number of county court judgements dealing with how those conditions are satisfied leads to a climate of uncertainty where even landlords who have been legally advised cannot be confident that their possession claims will ultimately succeed at court.’

PILLSBURY

Sungbum Lee (left) is joining Pillsbury as an International Trade Partner. With extensive experience in South Korea, Lee will initially be based in the firm’s expanding London office. Having started his career at Kim & Chang before moving to Yoon & Yang (where he was a partner) he represented South Korean clients on trade matters such as U.S. trade remedy proceedings, economic sanctions by the United States and EU relating to Iran and Russia, trade agreement country of origin verifications, customs reviews and tariff classification issues. He has also represented the South Korean government in investor-state disputes submitted under bilateral investment treaties and free trade agreements, and he has advised clients on business transactions, regulatory issues and litigation.

“Sungbum has a fantastic reputation and strong connections with financial institutions, chemical producers, pharmaceutical companies,  manufacturers and other large Korean businesses, adding important new dimensions to our international platform,” said Pillsbury Chair, David Dekker. 

Lee is the latest partner to join Pillsbury’s London office, which recently relocated to larger,  premier office space at 100 Bishopsgate.

FARRER & CO

Rhian Lewis (left) is joining Farrer & Co as Head of Pro Bono and Counsel. Formerly with Hogan Lovells, where her practice focused on pro bono and international human rights law, Rhian has specialised in advocating for effective remedies for victims of human trafficking and modern slavery. She was previously a finalist for the UK in the United Nations GC SDG Pioneer Awards.

 Lewis’s role is newly created and reflects the firm’s historic engagement in a wide range of social value and pro bono work. She will now practise solely in a pro bono capacity, working with the firm’s Responsible Business Partner and the Board to create an overarching pro bono strategy. She will be responsible for overseeing all ongoing pro bono activity around the firm. 

“As a firm, we have always deeply valued our engagement with causes and organisations that support the world around us, and so we are hugely proud to be investing so heavily in our pro bono practice,” said Alexandra Hollingshead, Responsible Business Partner at the firm.