Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and arts from the legal world
June 24 2022 Editorial Contact email@example.com
SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK – TIME TO PULL TOGETHER?
It has been a tough week in the Legal Diary office. Covid has been running riot and the train strike has brought the local station to a halt. (Mind you because of Covid we couldn’t go anywhere anyway). But it brought back memories of two years ago. So we were struck by the comments made by Sara Maccallum of Boodle Hatfield, now celebrating its 300th anniversary, highlighting problems overcome. “At the start of the financial year there was cause for caution with the global pandemic still at its peak” she said.” [BUT] given the pandemic, it’s a fantastic achievement to have been able to realise solid growth. This really comes down to our people who have pulled together fantastically over the last few years to ensure we remain a strong firm.”
The period ahead of high inflation, low confidence and lots of practical inconvenience is likely to prove another period of turmoil and stress for many firms.’Pulling together’ while WFH is again likely to be of critical importance.
+ LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK
– Windrush Wind-Up
– Global Map of Anti-Hate Speech Legislation
– Payne Hicks Beach wins Podcast Prize
– A&O Trainee Clinches City of London Prize
LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK on the infected blood inquiry, the Murdoch divorce, substituting agency staff for striking workers, status of embryos
LEGAL MERGERS OF THE WEEK Eversheds Sutherland and Tsvetkova Bebov & Partners; Harrison Grant and Hodge Jones & Allen
LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK
The controversial unveiling of the Windrush statue at Waterloo Station this week brought the scandal of those abused by the Immigration authorities back into public focus. Yet it seems that even now only 7% of Windrush ‘survivors’ have been compensated for the discrimination they unlawfully suffered since the Compensation Scheme was established in April 2019. Recent reports on the scheme by the Home Affairs Select Committee, JUSTICE and the Windrush Justice Clinic all concluded that the lack of government funded legal advice was a barrier to claimants bringing claims.
The Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU) is now working in partnership with eight well-known law firms (Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Charles Russell Speechlys, Debevoise, Dechert, Latham & Watkins, Linklaters, Taylor Wessing and White & Case) to provide legal advice and support for people to apply to the Compensation Scheme. “We are delighted to be working with the GMIAU and our partner law firms to support Windrush claimants,” said Dechert partner Giles Belsey. “Many people who are eligible to make claims may be reluctant to do so, they may not appreciate the real extent of losses they have suffered or they may feel put off by the process, time and effort. We understand it can be a difficult decision to come forward but we are there to help. We encourage those affected to obtain the free and confidential legal advice which is offered and ultimately to claim for compensation they are due.”
Supervising Solicitor of GMIAU, Nicola Burgess, commented, “Many survivors we work with have lost employment, been detained, threatened with deportation, made homeless, experienced the breakdown of relationships and have been unable to visit loved ones. Working with our teams of lawyers they at last feel supported and listened to.”
Global Map of Anti-Hate Speech Legislation
“The Internet has become a significant source of hatred,” announces the website at the Global Regulation of Online Hate backed by Hogan Lovells. All a bit disappointing, one supposes, for Tim Berners-Lee – but then lawyers are rather more realistic than idealistic scientists and technologists.
The new website, which is available at https://www.hoganlovellsbase.com/hatespeechmap
provides a worldwide guide to the infrastructure of anti-hate speech legislation now accessible to victims and their lawyers. Steven M. Freeman, Vice President, Civil Rights, of the Anti-Defamation League, commented: “Understanding the legal tools available to combat hate speech is essential in the fight against the many forms of online and offline hate. The Hogan Lovells/Peace Tech Lab digest of major laws available in an interactive map-based tool will be incredibly useful to ADL and help us understand the parameters of the law in numerous jurisdictions. We welcome the effort and appreciate the work.”
That said the number of countries which are represented on the map as having anti-hate speech laws seems to be remarkably small. Russia, unsurprisingly, is not among them. But at least China is – sort of. “Under the current legal framework of the People’s Republic of China (“China”), there is no single legislation or regulation governing or regulating hate speech and there is no legal definition of “hate speech,” comments the site. That said, the Constitution of China apparently sets out several fundamental principles in protecting ethnic equality, religious freedom, social interests, or the legitimate freedoms or rights of any individual. “Guided by these principles as set out in the Constitution, hate speech issues in China are confronted and tackled by various legislations and regulations like the Civil Code, Criminal Law, Labour Law, inter alia.”
Well, that’s alright then.
Payne Hicks Beach wins Podcast Prize
Immobilised by Covid yesterday the LegalDiarist was distracted by a BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour discussion of the dilemmas that come with IVF procedures. Among other things the discussion covered the legal context and the importance of putative parents understanding what they may and may not be permitted to do as part of this process. Clearly there is need for better public education.
So it was good to see that Payne Hicks Beach has produced a very powerful ‘Modern Family’ Podcast Series which covers this topic and has just won the prize for Best blog/podcast of the Year at the Citywealth’s Brand Management & Reputation Awards. The series launched in November 2020, lead by Sarah Williams, Payne Hicks Beach’s Head of Surrogacy, Adoption, Fertility & Modern Family and started with Professor Joyce Harper, Head of Reproductive Science at the Institute for Women’s Health at University College London in a candid interview about the truth behind egg freezing. It goes on to addresses key issues such as women’s fertility preservation, where to start in choosing donor gametes and creating a family via surrogacy. Among a range of interesting topics the series featured Rich Vaughn of the International Fertility Law Group talking about ‘Californian surrogacy arrangements: what all UK intended parents need to know’ and ‘The legalisation of surrogacy in New York’. Definitely worth a listen.
To access the series go to https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/the-payne-hicks-beach-podcast/id1553718527
A&O Trainee Clinches City of London Award
The City of London Solicitors’ Company has announced that the winner of its annual Company Prize awarded to an ‘up-and-coming’ City law firm trainee is Alexander Westin-Hardy, a Trainee Solicitor with Allen & Overy LLP
Westin-Hardy wrote a highly accomplished article on the topic “How should City law firms respond to the worldwide climate emergency?” arguing that City law firms are uniquely placed to respond to the worldwide climate emergency. “By embracing sustainability measures, utilising lawyers as force multipliers, and leveraging expertise in environmental regulations, firms can capitalise on new business opportunities while making a real difference,” suggested Westin-Hardy. Along with other short-listed entrants Westin-Hardy was also interviewed on the subject by the Master of the City of London Solicitors’ Company, Robert Bell of Memery Crystal LLP, and the Vice-Chair of the City of London Law Society Training Committee, Julia Robinson of Ropes & Gray.
Westin-Hardy’s winning article will be featured in the Legal Diary in the Autumn.
LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK
TOPIC: Proposed change to the law to allow agency staff to fill in for strikers
COMMENT BY: Philip Richardson, partner and head of employment law at Stephensons
“There are many that will see this proposed change in the law as a long overdue solution to a decades old problem – a way to plug the gaps left by striking workers and ensure some continuity of service.
At the same time, there is a balancing act the government must perform here, and one not without its challenges. Legislating your way out of these situations could be regarded as undermining a worker’s democratic right to strike and stifling their civil liberties. Similar proposals have been made in the past but have never come to fruition – largely because of these reasons.
For employers, there are obvious benefits in having access to agency workers in times of industrial action, but there would need to be a considerable amount of time and education required to ensure employers understand these law changes. There would also need to be thought put into which agency staff have the right skill set needed to perform certain roles. When it comes to it, there could be some push back from employers that this plan, in reality, may be more difficult to implement than it appears.”
TOPIC: The impending appearance of Sir John Major and Baroness Virginia Bottomley at the Infected Blood Inquiry
COMMENT BY: Des Collins, Senior Partner, Collins Solicitors
“We know that Major advised against a sympathetic response to infected blood product victims. His concern was the potential exposure of the Government to further litigation. However, in a curious development in December 1990, and before the victims had even been consulted, he announced that the Government had agreed to settle the litigation brought by haemophiliacs infected with HIV.”
“We believe that the responses of both the Thatcher and Major administrations were simply wrong and the very limited support that was eventually provided was insufficient to address the needs and meet the losses of all of those so badly harmed. Some 2,000 – 3,000 people have since died and many lives have been ruined as result of decisions taken by past Governments. Some 30 years on, there can be no further excuses and we must now make sure that the truth is finally heard.
“Sir John and Baroness Virginia’s evidence comes at a critical time as the Cabinet Office considers Sir Robert Francis QC’s recommendations for a compensation framework for those infected and affected. Having a formal record of what decisions were made, by whom and when, and securing proper financial redress is long overdue. Both remain critically important for those still alive and those whose loved ones died as result of the biggest treatment disaster in NHS history.”
TOPIC: The High Court ruling that widower Ted Jennings should have the right to have a baby using his late wife’s embryo,
COMMENT BY: Sarah Williams, a specialist surrogacy lawyer at Payne Hicks Beach
“This significant ruling should lead to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) forms being reviewed in order to address this specific issue and avoid any repetition of this distressing scenario.”
“Although the law does require written consent in relation to the posthumous use of gametes, here the Judge found the clinic forms lacked clarity on the specific issue of being able consent to the carrying of their embryo by a surrogate in the event of death.
“Ms Choya was not, therefore, afforded a proper opportunity to consent to the posthumous use of their embryos in this way.
“This finding led the judge to consider the wider context of Ms Choya’s motivations to have a family and inferring that she would have consented to Mr Jennings being able to use their embryo in a posthumous surrogacy.”
TOPIC: The proposed divorce between Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall
COMMENT BY: Deborah Jeff, Head of Family Law at specialist media and entertainment law firm, Simkins.
“This is a short marriage between parties in the latter years of their lives. Considering their previous divorces and the wish for no publicity regarding their personal lives, it would be no surprise if they had entered into a prenuptial agreement determining the financial settlement were their marriage to fail.
“In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, Jerry Hall will have a needs based claim against Rupert Murdoch’s millions, determined by various factors such as their ages and length of the marriage, but also taking into account the standard of living enjoyed during their marriage. That is likely to result in a generous settlement for Jerry Hall but one that Mr Murdoch can easily meet.”
MERGERS OF THE WEEK
Harrison Grant and Hodge Jones & Allen
“There has never been a more urgent time to address the consequences of the climate crisis,” said Kate Harrison, founder of environmental law specialists Harrison Grant, as she announced a merger with the Environmental Justice Team at Hodge Jones & Allen, “We want to ensure that our legal expertise is channelled to support environmental legislation and decisions which preserve our global future.”
With the goal of supporting clients who holding the state to account on issues relating to climate change and the environment the scope of the practice will now include acting for clients whose rights or health have been impacted by pollution, NGOs challenging legislation or state actions by judicial review, and environmental campaigners who have been arrested or punished.
Harrison Grant, which now has a total of four lawyers, has enjoyed a successful record stretching back almost 20 years covering a variety of cases challenging government policy from nuclear power to Heathrow runway 3. The firm’s work has also covered the protection of Cornish river estuaries and challenging entitlements to fishing quota regarded as unsustainable.
Meanwhile the Hodge Jones & Allen team of environmental lawyers is led by Jocelyn Cockburn and focuses on using human rights, public law and criminal law to help people defend their rights and effect change. It will also work closely with criminal solicitor, Raj Chada and the HJA Protest Law Team to offer legal advice to environmental protestors,
“Harrison Grant are admired and respected for the leading cases they have handled over the years,” said Patrick Allen, Senior Partner, Hodge Jones & Allen. “ Climate change and environmental destruction pose an existential threat to continued life on this planet. HJA with the HG team will use the law to hold the government to account, to preserve our environment, ensure that the UK meets its carbon zero and green growth targets and support campaigners who are fighting on these issues.”
Eversheds Sutherland and Tsvetkova Bebov & Partners
Given the tinderbox that Eastern Europe is right now it is interesting to note that Eversheds Sutherland has just announced a merger with the four-partner Bulgarian firm Tsvetkova Bebov & Partners (TBP) with which it has had a long-standing relationship.
“The firm is committed to growing across Europe and is now present in 23 countries,” comments Ian Gray, the Eversheds Sutherland Chair for Europe, “We are delighted to be working more closely with the Bulgarian practice which will expand our Central Eastern European presence. The team is a highly-ranked full-service firm with an excellent reputation and diverse client base in banking and financial services, pharma and life sciences, energy, manufacturing and technology. Our clients will benefit from greater strength in depth both locally and across the wider CEE region.”
Bulgaria’s economic and tax environment, and the aim of the country to attract foreign investment requires highly qualified local and international legal knowledge. Added to which, of course, it may gain two new EU-member neighbours along the Black Sea coast in Ukraine and Moldova.
“By joining forces with Eversheds Sutherland, and having the weight of a global brand behind us, we will be able to drive further growth of our practice across the CEE,” said Irina Tsvetkova, Managing Partner, Eversheds Sutherland Bulgaria. “This is a very important step for us. Our people, our clients and our communities will all benefit from our more visible presence in the market. Our lawyers will be able to further develop their skills and knowledge across multi-jurisdictional sectors, our national and international client base will benefit from inbound and outbound opportunities in new markets, and the feedback from our community is one of huge excitement that Eversheds Sutherland, with its strong global brand and reputation, will be established in Sofia.”
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Effective and productive meetings
In collaboration with Joanna Gaudoin, please join us for the third of four webinars looking at ‘how to develop positive relationships needed in your role’ – whether you are just starting out in-house, moving up the promotion ladder or wish to improve your business skills.
Date: Monday 18 July
Time: 10:00AM (BST)
Most professionals spend hours in meetings, both virtually and in person. They are an important way for individuals to receive and convey information, discuss, and make decisions, whether they are internal or with clients or other professional contacts. However, they can become habitual and less effective and waste resources.
This session looks at what needs to be considered and implemented by both those running meetings and those participating to make sure they are a good use of everyone’s time and successful outcomes are achieved.
If you have any questions, queries or comments, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org