Edward Fennell’s Legal Diary – Edition 23

Thursday August 27 2020 Late Lunchtime publication Edition 23

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




The return of schooling next week represents a kind of resumption of normality but we all appreciate that the new normal’ will be different from the old. When the scale of the pandemic was understood in the Spring the cries of ‘We’re all in it together’ gave some kind of hope. But that illusion was gradually stripped away as levels of mutual antipathy, suspicion, disillusion and sheer incompetence were exposed not just over the virus issue but in the fields of race, policing and the media.

Quite how the legal profession will be affected still remains to be seen. From the start law firms responded in widely different ways over partnership promotions, furloughing and recruitment of trainees. The impact on work levels has also been very varied. One can only hazard a guess about what the new normal for lawyers will be especially in the area of diversity. But what’s clear for sure is that law firms and lawyers will definitely not be ‘all in it together’.

The Legaldiarist

NOTE: From mid-September Edward Fennell’s Legal Diary will be coming from Italy for a month or so. Publication times and dates may vary. But please continue to send your news, stories and comment to fennell.edward@yahoo.com


In this week’s edition


+ HOT TOPIC OF THE WEEK – Surprise tax effects arise from pension fund ‘buyout’







Over a quarter of millions pounds has been contributed by more than 8,000 individuals to support the campaign for a judicial review into the legality of the C-virus lockdown measures led by Simon Dolan founder of the Keep Britain Free movement. The case will now proceed to a rolled-up hearing expected to be held at the Court of Appeal during the week commencing the 28th September to decide on whether the case should progress to a full Appeal.

Simon Dolan said, “The Government’s decision to unilaterally lockdown the United Kingdom marks the most serious imposition on personal freedoms in recent history. Already tens of thousands have been sentenced to death, millions of children have been deprived of an education, our economy has been left in ruins and we have experienced the largest fall in employment in over a decade.

 “Citizens in Leicester and Greater Manchester continue to be unlawfully stripped of their freedoms and liberties, and Birmingham could be the next city to be forced into a local lockdown. With the possibility of further restrictions looming over all our heads, it is only right that the Government is held to account and the legality of its actions questioned.”

Maybe only time will tell whether the lockdown has been justified in terms of saving lives – after all, similar powers were exercised by the authorities in the Great Plague of the 1660s – but it is surely right to determine whether or not the Government was acting within its powers.

Mr Dolan is represented by Michael Gardner of law firm Wedlake Bell LLP, Philip Havers QC, a barrister and Deputy High Court Judge who specialises in public law, and barrister Francis Hoar of Field Court Chambers. 

The news that Neil Gerrard, the Co-Head of white collar crime at Dechert, is to leave the firm at the end of the year will raise a cacophony of questions among those who have been following events in the Gulf and especially in the tiny kingdom of RAK. The activities of Mr Gerrard and his colleagues have been reported on extensively by both newspapers and the legal press so maybe it should be no surprise that the decision has been reached that now is the time to conclude what might be called a ‘colourful career’.

But what recent events have undoubtedly put the focus on is the wisdom of law firms becoming too closely embroiled in foreign governments’ own internal affairs and the functioning of their justice systems. Whatever their intentions, once they are on the payroll in that way, the pressures intensify on their professional independence and duties. Maybe better not put oneself to the test.


The Legal Software Suppliers Association (LSSA) is not necessarily the best known feature on the legal landscape but, as technology plays an increasingly important part in legal processes, it warrants a higher profile not least because it provide a strong focus in establishing standards and cooperation between suppliers, professional bodies, and government organisations.

The more members the better, therefore , and the latest recruit is DigitalMove best known for its technological innovation to the conveyancing sector.

“We have joined the LSSA to work more closely with the country’s leading case management software providers, to enhance our integration offering and make the home moving experience less stressful for everyone involved,” said Tim Price, DigitalMove’s Head of Business Development.

Meanwhile Chair of the LSSA, Craig Matthews, commented: “We’re delighted to have DigitalMove as part of the LSSA. During this uncertain time the stability of the LSSA is helping secure and shape the UK’s legal technology industry for the benefit of law firms and consumers.”

With the house market now taking off once more this could be a good time for DigitalMove.


All that publicity in the UK a couple of years ago about the penalties of breaching GDPR regime seems to have paid off. When compiling the GDPR ‘naughtiness league’ from the Enforcement Tracker fines database, consultancy Finbold found that Britain did not even make it into the Top Ten for fines.

Not too surprisingly maybe it was the Italians who couldn’t keep a cap on their data followed, maybe oddly, by the Swedes (who, given also their approach to Covid seem to be drifting away from their traditional path of virtuousness).

So the top ten EU countries with the biggest total GDPR fines are:

Rank Country Total Fines (€) No. Of Fines
1 Italy 45,609,000 13
2 Sweden 7,031,800 4
3 Netherlands 2,080,000 3
4 Spain 1,952,810 76
5 Germany 1,240,000 1
6 Norway 742,060 8
7 Belgium 717,000 7
8 Hungary 299,300 6
9 Finland 200,500 4
10 Ireland 115,000 2

Other key findings from this report include:

  • 60,181,250 is the total GDPR fine of EU countries, as of 2020
  • The most common GDPR violation is the insufficient legal basis for data processing
  • The country with the most GDPR violations is Spain, with 76 fines
  • Italy is the country with the biggest GDPR fine total at €45.6 million For more go to




Surprise tax effects arise from pension fund ‘buyout’

Pensions law is almost always very complicated and now a warning is being given by tax experts that pension fund trustees need to be aware of the buyout tax effects on their scheme members.

Vikki Massarano, a partner at Arc Pesnsions Law, highlights interpretation of tax law that could mean certain scheme members might be hit by unexpected tax charges on buyout.

“Pensioners with fixed protection risk losing that protection if their scheme buys out benefits when they have other pensions that aren’t yet in payment because of a peculiarity in the legislation,” she says. “Deferred members and other forms of pensioner protection are not affected in the same way.”

Moving to buy out is usually seen as a good thing for members, so trustees and employers will be keen to continue this where possible – but without triggering unexpected tax consequences for members. “Despite lobbying, there does not seem to be a change in the law to prevent this anomaly happening any time soon so trustees, employers and insurers are looking at new processes so that buy out activity can continue,” explains Ms. Massarano. This involves a two-stage process rather than the previously common one step conversion of buy in to buy out.

Trustees need to identify which members could be affected so that the risks and potential mitigations are explained. Pensioners with a small benefit in one scheme could have significant undrawn benefits in another scheme so it is not possible to limit the investigation to those with high benefits. And members who start to take their pension before buy out can also be caught, so the net needs to be spread even more widely.

Trustees need to be aware of this issue, emphasises Ms. Massarano, so they can make sure it is properly factored into their planning and timeline when aiming for ‘buy out’.

For more contact vikki.massarano@arcpensionslaw.com





This evening the third in a series of webinar discussions on the theme of artists’ legal rights will be hosted at 6.30-8.00 by Jon Sharples, an IP law consultant with Simmons and Simmons. Jon is well-known on the London and Liverpool art scene through his involvement as a trustee with Block 336 (the artist-run project space and gallery) and the Liverpool Biennial.

Aimed at both artists and  arts and legal professionals who are interested in matters of  artists’ copyright, tonight’s session will deal with topics such as appropriation vs. plagiarism, fair dealing and fair use, inspiration vs. copying, and what it takes to get legal proceedings going.

Also participating in the discussion will be London-based artist Haroon Mirza together with with Azmina Jasani Partner at Constantine Cannon and leading art lawyer, and David Stone, Global Head of IP at Allen & Overy and also a Deputy High Court IP Judge).

Alongside these talks which started in June, Block 336 is also collating information about available resources, advice clinics and law firms with pro bono offerings. Originally intended to be hosted at the gallery, the series fell victim to the C-virus and is is now being presented via Zoom.

For more go to


To register for this free event go NOW to

Artists’ Legal Rights Sessions: Copyright: Infringement



Please continue to send your stories and insights to fennell.edward@yahoo.com

And back again next week – before an escape to Italy

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