Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

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

January 20 2023

Editorial contact: fennell.edward@yahoo.com

SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK – HOLDING THE LINE

Sometimes a small victory in the courts gives a big lift to the heart. It might seem a trivial matter, given the life-and-death struggles going on elsewhere right now, but the defeat of Adidas in its trademark battle with Thom Browne in the US courts this week was one of those moments.

Adidas argued that its three lined logo (above) was under threat from Thom Browne’s lines symbol (actually four lines).

Come on, gives us a break (in the line)! Had Adidas won then there would have been lines of protest in the street because, like the ‘line of beauty’, lines belong to all of us – short, long, wide, thin we should all be able to access the line.

As Jeremy Hertzog, Partner and Head of Innovation at Mishcon de Reya, commented, “This case has important implications for the scope of trade mark registrations and appreciation of the distinct niches occupied by brands in the fashion sector. Today’s decision is a milestone in a dispute which has been running for over 15 years.”

Yes, it’s time this line (of argument) came to a stop.

The LegalDiarist

In this week’s edition

+ LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

– Lord save us! (at Brick Court)

– Gold-diggers at Roythorne

– Lime juicing it right now

– CILEX flexes to absorb Paralegals

+ LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK on the cyber attack on Royal Mail, journalists in the family courts, corporate insolvencies and the role of Law Officers

+ CONTRIBUTED ARTICLES OF THE WEEK

– ‘ALTERNATIVE LEGAL SERVICE PROVIDERS’ They are the real future for law suggests Dan Fox

WHAT ARE THE TOP FIVE EMPLOYEE BENEFIT TRENDS FOR THE LEGAL SECTOR IN 2023? asks Robbie Weston

+ APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK at Hodge Jones & Allen and BCLP

+ E-VENTS

HFW COMMUNITY: IN CONVERSATION WITH… MANFRED GOLDBERG BEM

LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK

Lord save us!

Can you help in our inquiries?

In an era characterised by the flakiness of its politicians and its royalty the British Establishment is fortunate that it can still summon up stalwart lawyers to provide a safe pair of hands when national need arises. Foremost source of these must be Brick Court chambers which this week is noting that one of its most high profile members the much-gonged Lord (David) Anderson KBE KC (above), is once again being summoned to get to the bottom of government complexity. On Tuesday, Anderson was appointed by the Home Secretary to carry out an independent review of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. But this follows on from his role as Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation between 2011 and 2017 while he also looked in depth at the internal reviews conducted by MI5 and Counter-Terrorism Policing into the attacks on Manchester Arena, London Bridge and elsewhere. So he’s got form.

The key, of course, is independence and Anderson sits as an Independent in the House of Lords. Meanwhile, the Home Office gives assurance that ‘Lord Anderson’s review will be entirely independent from the Home Secretary’s statutory report’. Could be critical.

Gold-digging at Roythorne

Talking about getting gongs, Roythornes Solicitors  has just been awarded the Gold accreditation from Investors in People for what is called its ‘great workplace culture’. The Investors in People standard has been around since the 1990s as a government-backed programme to set and assess standards in people management and development. The hope was that better business results would go hand-in-hand with better people practices.

It may not work for every organisation but it seems to have paid off for Roythornes. “We are thrilled to be awarded the Gold accreditation from Investors in People,” said Gillian Nash-Kennell (above), the firm’s HR director. “This is a team effort, and we pride ourselves on working collaboratively to achieve great results, both for our clients and the organisation”.

The firm is certainly moving up the league ranks and claims to have enjoyed exponential growth since its last Investors in People assessment just over a year ago. During that time it has brought in100 new recruits across its five offices in the Midlands from Birmingham and Nottingham across to Peterborough, Spalding and Alconbury. It puts this down, in part, to having adopted a one team ethos and building long-standing relationships with its clients ranging (a pretty diverse group both in the UK and abroad).

“A firm like Roythornes is an example of a company which understands the value of its people,” said Paul Devoy, CEO of Investors in People. If only all law firms were like that.

Lime juicing it right now

You have to give credit to Lime Solicitors. Not so long ago they had not loomed large (or even at all) in the LegalDiarist’s consciousness. Now they seem to be everywhere. Earlier this week, for example, they featured as representing former pupils in The Times’ account of alleged abuse at a leading music school. And a short time back they were using freedom of information legislation to probe the cost to local authorities of repairing roads. And now they have been appointed as a ‘trusted partner’ for the East Midlands and East of England panel of the Spinal Injuries Association’s (SIA) a charity helping those affected, or supporting those affected, by spinal cord injuries.

“That first day when you leave hospital can be hugely daunting, so we know how crucial it is that our work supports the whole family and takes a long-term view of rehabilitation and support,” says Tony Hannington, head of Lime Solicitors, “It is vital we start the process straight away and being on the panel will mean we can help support more people with spinal cord injury from a very early stage in their journey and help provide better outcomes for them and their family.” Well said.

CILEX flexes to absorb Paralegals (while others wait in the wings)

CILEX(the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives), which describes itself as the third leg of the legal profession, has tightened its grip on the legal qualification market by acquiring the Institute of Paralegals (IoP) and its Professional Paralegal Register (PPR).

It’s part of a process whereby CILEX has grown its influence and membership across the legal sector in recent years. The argument is that consumer confidence is boosted by ensuring paralegals have the appropriate experience, training and regulation. ON top of that, however, CILEX aims to make the legal profession more diverse and representative of the society it serves.

“CILEX and the IoP have a shared vision for recognising the important role paralegals play in the delivery of legal services,” says CILEX chief executive Linda Ford. “As the home of specialist legal professionals, we were the natural choice to take the IoP and PPR forward, as we are able to offer its members a recognised professional status as a CILEX Paralegal and access to structured and supported career pathways.”

Meanwhile – and it has to be said, rather confusingly – in another sector of the paralegal field, the NALP (The National Association of Licensed Paralegals) has been appointed an ‘End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) for the Level 3 Paralegal Apprenticeship Standard’ (ref: ST0245)

 “NALP becoming an EPAO for apprenticeship helps to solidify its position in the legal qualifications sector and has meant that we have been able to influence the content of the apprenticeship standard itself,” said NALP’s CEO Jane Robson.

The LegalDiarist is reluctant to enter the no doubt heated world of para-politics but there might be some value in rationalising this ‘alphabet soup’ of paralegal-qualifications!

LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK

TOPIC: Disruption to Royal Mail’s overseas deliveries due to a cyberattack

COMMENT BY: Sonia Campbell, Partner and head of Insurance Disputes at Mishcon de Reya

The Royal Mail cyberattack brings into sharp focus the vulnerabilities faced by businesses in the face of a growing number of such attacks year on year. Businesses will guard against that risk through a combination of their own safeguards and controls and by securing comprehensive cyber insurance cover. However, media reports suggest that the attack used the ransomware “Lockbit”, reportedly developed and used by criminals with ties to Russia. Therefore, the announcement from Lloyd’s of London last year that cyber policies must exclude state-backed cyberattacks will be increasingly relevant to vulnerable insured businesses, with the potential for gaps in cover to emerge.”

TOPIC: Journalists to be permitted to access family courts

COMMENT BY: Julian Hayes, senior partner at Berris Law?

I welcome this development as it affords the opportunity for the public to see how the courts operate and the issues that often arise. They will also have a better idea as the negative impact that LASPO (the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012) has had on proceedings and the significant increase in litigants in person and the difficulties they face.”

TOPIC: Proposals to change the role of Law Officers in Parliament

COMMENT [Jointly] BY: The Rt Hon Sir Robert Buckland KBE KC, formerly Lord Chancellor and Solicitor-General (Conservative) and Professor Sir Ross Cranston FBA, formerly Solicitor General, High Court Judge and Labour MP

The positive case for the continuation of the traditional arrangement for law officers as politicians is that their political background better informs them about the policy goals and priorities of the government of which they are part and the pressures it may be under. It enables them to explain to colleagues more bluntly why particular avenues for action must be varied if they are to be lawful and for that advice to be more palatable and consequently implemented by its recipients. To put it another way, the political status of the law officers lends weight to any advice given since it is coming from those who share the government’s goals and aspirations and are ‘on its side’.” 

TOPIC: The worsening situation for companies in England and Wales as latest figures show corporate insolvencies rise 76% on pre-pandemic levels

COMMENT BY: Jeremy Whiteson, Partner in Fladgate’s Restructuring and Insolvency practice

Data on registered insolvencies for December 2022 were 32% higher than in the same month the previous year and 76% higher than December 2019 (being the last pre-covid comparison).

The increase in overall figures was largely caused by an increase in creditors voluntary liquidations (CVLs). This is a procedure generally used for companies with no ongoing business to dispose of remaining assets, distribute available funds to creditors and dispose of the corporate entity. There were 1659 CVLs in December 2022, a 22% increase on December 2021 but 111% higher than December 2019. It was also an increase on November 2022.

Compulsory liquidations (a remedy for unconnected creditors to impose liquidation through a court order) rose by 259% on December 2021 and 8% on December 2019

Notably, the numbers of administrations and company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) – procedures more likely to be used to rescue a business – showed an increase on 2022 figures. That is concerning as it suggests that the high number of insolvencies affecting redundant companies and reflected in the liquidation figures, is now spreading to trading businesses.

CONTRIBUTED ARTICLES OF THE WEEK

ALTERNATIVE LEGAL SERVICE PROVIDERS’ They are the real future for law, suggests Dan Fox (below)

Markets are volatile at the moment. And while many people consider “the legal industry to be more recession-proof than most industries”, the “legal industry” is becoming increasingly two-speed.

The divergence in growth is being found between “new law”, a catch-all term for ALSPs and smaller more specialised law firms, and “old law”, the large, old, traditional firms that had enjoyed years of dominance with little competition.

Change, however, is now afoot. A study carried out last year by Thomson Reuters Institute found that 79% of law firms and 71% of corporations now use ALSPs as a means of controlling costs, increasing efficiency, and leveraging cutting-edge technology.As the scope and remit of legal departments continue to expand, legal departments are constantly being challenged to do more with less. And that’s exactly ALSPs enable them to do. So while some firms have set up ALSPs as captive subsidiaries to service their own clients, many more simply engage a third-party ALSP.

This underscores the evolution of the ALSP model, and how it is no longer considered a threat to traditional legal providers, but instead very much complimentary to them.

A low-risk, high-value opportunity

Firms that may be reluctant to hire are seeking solutions that allow them to remain adaptable yet resilient. Furthermore, members of the legal profession want alternatives to the nine-to-five (or nine-to-nine!) that afford them the opportunity to have a more flexible work-life balance.

The ongoing fallout of Brexit is also continuing to place significant pressure on the legal profession in Ireland, the UK, and EU countries as lawyers and firms attempt to grapple with the changes and what they mean on a practical level.

It’s a specific scenario, but one that highlights the need for the profession to demonstrate that it can be nimble and flexible enough to respond to seismic regulatory changes.

It’s also worth noting that in May 2020, the Chambers & Partners legal directory has decided to evolve its classification of providers of outsourced legal processes, and created a dedicated ALSP ranking. So, perhaps it’s now time that we stop referring to new ways of providing legal services, flexible fee arrangements, and ALSPs as “alternative.” Now, they are simply another part of the ‘new normal’.

Dan Fox is Co-Founder and CEO of Johnson Hana

For more go to: https://www.johnsonhana.com/

WHAT ARE THE TOP FIVE EMPLOYEE BENEFIT TRENDS FOR THE LEGAL SECTOR IN 2023? asks Robbie Weston

With the current economic uncertainty, there is likely to be a slowing down in the recruitment market. However, this is the ideal time for firms to redouble their efforts to improve communication and engage with staff to build long-term loyalty, Here are the key actions that law firms should now be taking.

Review your employee benefits:

Review your existing employee benefits programme to ensure it continues to meet the needs of your business and employees. This includes ensuring that you have appropriate wellbeing support in place.

It’s also important to consider whether your benefits fit with your wider business goals and beliefs. For examples, do your benefits meet the ESG objectives? Talk to staff to see what they value and identify any gaps within your current offering. We expect employees to demand more benefits which reflect their personal environmental and ethical beliefs including ethical pension fund options, green car and cycle-to-work schemes.

Promote your employee benefits regularly.

The post-pandemic workplace has changed the ways that firms communicate with their people. Implementing a multi-channel communications strategy, which includes the right mix of digital, in person and traditional communication methods, can help to reach the entire workforce and bring benefits to life, ensuring that firms maximise their benefits spend. And boosting engagement and appreciation of the benefits provided too.   

Prioritise employee mental health.

Mental health is an ongoing issue for the sector. Firms are under pressure to maximise fee-earning time and increase billable hours. However, this also brings the risk of burnout and poor workplace wellbeing. 

Many firms will be looking to create a more supportive culture that proactively looks after employees’ mental health as this will aid staff retention and attraction. From creating specific mental health plans, to training mental health first aiders, offering wellbeing apps and encouraging conversation about mental health related issues within the workplace– there are many actions that can be taken.

Prioritise wellbeing

In 2023, we expect to see more firms particularly focusing on supporting employees’ mental and financial wellbeing. An effective strategy will identify the key wellbeing needs of employees and put in place the right solutions to help. There isn’t a one size fits all solution so it’s advisable to work with your benefits consultant to pinpoint the main aspects of wellbeing that need to be addressed and create a plan which directs spend in the most effective way.

Help staff through the cost-of-living crisis.

Firms will also need to support staff who face additional pressures due to the cost-of-living crisis. According to The Financial Capability Strategy for the UK: 1 in 4 workers have lost sleep over money worries. Younger employees who won’t have experienced a recession before are particularly likely to benefit from this support.

Offering access to services such as financial education programmes, online tools, discount platforms and financial advice are all likely to be welcomed in helping employees take control of their finances.

Focus on People Risk

We expect to see an increased focus on people risk in 2023. By this we mean, firms will look at all aspects of risk together rather than in isolation.Increasingly, we’re seeing PI insurers want to understand how firms are supporting their employees’ health & wellbeing as part of the underwriting process.HR teams are often the first line of defence in spotting issues and identifying potential issues within the workforce. We expect to see HR to have a bigger role to play in helping firms manage their overall approach to risk.

Robbie Weston is Executive Director, Asset Management and Legal, at Howden Employee Benefits and Wellbeing. For its guide to employers on how to support staff through the cost of living crisis go to www.howdengroup.com/uk-en/Cost-of-living-crisis-an-employers-guide For more go to  www.howdengroup.co.ukHodge Jones & Allen

APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK

HODGE JONES & ALLEN

Karolina Kupczyk (left) is joining the Dispute Resolution team at Hodge Jones & Allen as a partner. Previously with Slater and Gordon, Kupczyk hasmore than10 years of experience acting in substantial commercial and financial litigation cases and obtaining significant settlements involving intricate and complex issues.

In one of her most notable cases, Kupczyk acted in the largest consumer group action in the UK regarding product liability in the automotive industry. This resulted in managing claims for over 70,000 claimants and then in a further, similar action, with around 17,000 claimants.

“Karolina is extremely passionate, and has years of experience in her field working on a large variety of cases,” said Chun Wong, Partner, and Head of Dispute Resolution at Hodge Jones & Allen. “She has a track record of representing clients’ best interests in the face of injustice and, with her strong commercial awareness and industry knowledge, I do not doubt she will be a valuable addition to the Hodge Jones & Allen team.”

BRYAN CAVE LEIGHTON PAISNER (BCLP)

Chris Beaumont-McQuillan (left) is joining Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) as a partner in the firm’s Corporate Real Estate and Funds team. Previously with Reed Smith, where he led the Corporate Real Estate team in London Beaumont-McQuillan has experience big-ticket, complex cross border real estate deals internationally and has considerable experience in bilateral and auction acquisitions and disposals, JVs, club deals, funds, opco/propco structures and sale-and-leasebacks.  He has a particular focus on Middle Eastern capital, having lived and worked in the region for several years previously.

The appointment is designed to strengthen BCLP’s Corporate Real Estate and Funds team which formally launched earlier this month although it had worked together unofficially for a number of years on innovatory, high-value deals.

Regarding Beaumont-McQuillan’s appointment Chris de Pury, BCLP Global Head of Real Estate said, “Our objective is to build out our Corporate Real Estate and Funds team. Chris’s experience plays well to the pan-European expansion that has been a key strategy for us in 2022 and will continue to be this year, building on our steady growth in both France and Germany.” 

E-VENTS

from HFW COMMUNITY

In commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day, we are
pleased to be joined by 92-year-old Holocaust-survivor,
Manfred Goldberg BEM for the latest instalment of our HFW
webinar Community
series, taking place virtually on Tuesday
24 January, 6pm GMT.

HFW’s Managing Partner, Jeremy Shebson will host the evening
as Manfred will recount his experiences as a child victim in labour
camps under the Nazi regime during the Holocaust and how it
impacted his life. Through the Holocaust Educational Trust,
Manfred participates in a community outreach programme where
he visits schools and universities to teach the human impact of the
Holocaust. He is a regular public speaker and we are delighted to
welcome him.
If you have any queries please contact events@hfw.com.

For more information and register go to
https://sites-hfw.vuturevx.com/32/4662/landing-pages/registration—linkedin.asp

We hope that you have found this edition of the Legal Diary interesting – if so please circulate to colleagues.

And please continue sending your legal DIARY type stories, comments and insights to:

fennell.edward@yahoo.com