Edward Fennell’s LEGAL DIARY

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

May 26 2023

Editorial contact: fennell.edward@yahoo.com


Sir Robert Buckland and campaigner Bill Browder – Confident about our rights?

‘Laws and legal processes designed to prosecute wrongdoing can be misused by those that operate the levers of state power to persecute opponents,’ comments Payne Hicks Beach. That was certainly the case in Russia in the case the late Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who was killed in a Moscow prison after uncovering a $230 million fraud.

This and other matters were discussed this week by Bill Browder – the campaigner who who galvanised a Western response to this crime via the Magnitsky Act – and former Lord Chancellor, Sir Robert Buckland at a ‘Law and the State’ event hosted by Payne Hicks Beach. As Buckland commented “The British Courts have a responsibility to respect, protect and fulfil an individual’s Article 6 rights. Unlike authoritarian jurisdictions, the British criminal justice system offers key protections.”

For his part Browder added, “That’s why I chose to live in London over anywhere else – because there’s a strong rule of law that’s fiercely protected.  You have a Prime Minister who throws a party that’s against the law and you chuck him out!  That doesn’t really happen anywhere else.

However, we must beware complacency especially at a time when – as happened this week to expert scientist Dan Kaszeta  – one can be excluded from a high level Governmental technical discussion simply because of a random Brexit tweet. An open society cannot be taken for granted – even here.

The LegalDiarist

In this week’s edition


BDB Pitmans Cleans Up with Metaverse

It’s Just a Click Away: Thomson Reuters partners with Microsoft 365 Copilot

– Divorce Queen Welcomes New member of the Family

Fighting Sanctions Hits Brick Wall




on the fifth anniversary of GDPR and the (connected) fine on Meta


at Excello Law and Stevens & Bolton


BDB Pitmans Cleans Up with Metaverse

Dennis Lee (centre) looking like a winner

Announced this lunchtime at the Hilton London Bankside were the winners of this year’s ALM Law.com Legal Innovation Awards. The big mystery was who might be in the running for the Metaverse Innovation  category. Unlike the other Private Practice prizes where the shortlisted firms were all on the awards’ website the entry for Metaverse Innovation read simply ‘To be announced at the ceremony’.

Well, the mystery has now been cleared up with the wining firm emerging as BDB Pitmans whose Tech sector team collected the trophy for their work on their Tech+ project. This breakthrough enabled the firm to become a one-stop-shop for clients seeking advice on a wide range of matters in the Web3 sector including NFTs, Blockchain, DeFi, and the Metaverse.

“As part of the project,” the firm explained, “the team launched a monthly newsletter and accompanying website page providing insights into key developments in the Metaverse and Web3 world, designed to provide clear and comprehensible advice by highlighting how advancements in this complex and challenging area of law may impact client operations.”

Celebrating the firm’s success was Dennis Lee, partner and Tech sector team lead. “It is an honour to be recognised amongst the most impressive minds of the legal industry, not just for our innovative work but for our creativity,” he said. “With the support of our expert Marketing team, we were able to create Tech+ – a vehicle uniquely equipped to help us to share our ideas and knowledge well beyond the organisation in order to deliver genuine value for our clients and the wider business community.”

It’s Just a Click Away: Thomson Reuters partners with Microsoft 365 Copilot

With all the talk of how AI is going to transform the way legal professionals work – or maybe, indeed, NOT work at all as the case may be – Thomson Reuters has thrown its hat in the ring with a promise that its content-driven AI technology will help its customers to ‘unlock the potential to automate workflows, provide powerful insights, and drive efficiencies.’ That’s been backed up by the company’s announcement that it intends to invest more than $100 million annually on AI capabilities – so it is a pretty chunky undertaking including a link up with Microsoft 365 Copilot.

Generative AI empowers professionals to redefine their work and discover innovative approaches,” said Steve Hasker, president and CEO, Thomson Reuters. “With our customers in the driver’s seat, Thomson Reuters AI technology augments knowledge, helping professionals work smarter, giving them time back to focus on what matters. We are very proud to partner with Microsoft, leading the legal profession towards unlocking the value from Microsoft 365 Copilot for our customers, and their clients.”

To see what’s going to be possible watch a demonstration here.

Microsoft 365 Copilot is reinventing productivity for people and organizations, and we are thrilled to collaborate with Thomson Reuters to extend Copilot with new AI-powered experiences that will support legal professionals by saving them time and helping them drive value for the clients and businesses they serve,” said Andrew Lindsay, Corporate Vice President of Industry, Apps & Data, Business Development at Microsoft.

Meanwhile BCLP has announced this week that it is cutting almost fifty of its administrative support roles due to over-capacity. Just see what happens once

Microsoft 365 Copilot really gets going.

Divorce Queen Welcomes Youngster to the Family

If you are a young, up-and-coming lawyer making their way at the upper crust end of the family law market then you can receive no better a recommendation than from London’s Queen of Divorce, Baroness Fiona Shackleton (left). But that has been the good fortune of the youthful Joshua Moger, just seven years qualified, who has been appointed a Partner in the Family team at Payne Hicks Beach.

“I am delighted that Josh has agreed to join the partnership at Payne Hicks Beach, “said Baroness Fiona .”Josh joined the firm as a trainee, before qualifying into the family department and I am proud that he has worked closely with me for the last seven years. He is an ambitious and insightful family lawyer, with exceptional client care. It is reflective of our team, many of whom are “home grown”, that we are able not only to attract, but retain, practitioners of Josh’s calibre. I know that Josh will continue to build upon his stellar career and excel in partnership.”

Well, if that wasn’t enough to make him blush Moger (left) repaid the compliment  saying, I have been privileged to train at a firm with so many leading private client practitioners, in particular the Family team partners who are so widely respected and revered in the field…I am delighted to be joining the Partnership surrounded by such an array of talented colleagues and at such an exciting time for the firm.”

Baroness Shackleton has an extraordinary track record of high profile divorces cases to her credit including not least those of the Prince Andrew and the King. NO wonder Spear’s Family Law Index has described her as “Britain’s most feared and revered divorce lawyer…probably the greatest family lawyer of all time.” Can young Mr Moger ever surpass that?

Fighting Sanctions Hits Brick Wall

Have you ever shaken this man’s hand? If so, you may be under suspicion

As the war between Russia and the Ukraine drags on and growing numbers of people with Russian connections find themselves sanctioned – sometimes, as they see it, very unfairly – by Western governments, you might be feeling the need for a leading-edge analysis of where the regulations currently stand. In which case there can be no better source than the recent Brick Court Chambers Sanctions Soirée, held a few days ago and now available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lei9mrsCOz4&t=401s

Chaired by Lord Sumption the panel consists of as impressive a set of authorities as President Putin could shake a fist at. These include Ahila Sornarajah, Legal Counsellor & Deputy Director Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation, Fred Hobson, Malcolm Birdling and David Heaton (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) and Freya Page, Head of Guidance and Engagement at the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI).

Contributing from the Brick Court side was Maya Lester KC who offered a strong presentation on why the UK system is now actually more effective than the EU’s (one of the lesser known benefits of Brexit, perhaps!). The ‘proportionality’ of a sanctions listing was highlighted as one of the most sensitive issues and the roles of the courts in arbitrating on this was discussed.

The ‘Spectacularly broad terms’ in which the regulations have been couched attracted particular comment from Lord Sumption who said that, in the end, the appropriateness of a sanction would be a matter for the courts to decide – although they will be increasingly sensitive to what elected politicians want. All in all, a terrific and enlightening discussion.



The Online Safety Bill is a wide-ranging bill, looking to tackle a range of issues that have emerged in recent years, particularly around e-commerce and social media.

One issue currently being discussed is whether digital image manipulation (for example, smoothing wrinkles, changing skin tone or altering body shape) should be prohibited. The argument is that they promote unrealistic images around beauty, with a negative impact on users’ mental health.

Prohibiting this practice would have a significant impact on a range of businesses, from app providers such as Facetune (a popular app used to change people’s appearance in photos and videos, downloaded over 200 million times), to beauty companies (who often digitally enhance photos of their models and use influencers), to influencers (who often collaborate with brands to market their products) and even the social media companies themselves, who may be required to police their users’ compliance with the proposed new law.

If passed into law, this proposal poses a range of new risks to these businesses, particularly if the prohibited digital image manipulation is deemed to be false or misleading advertising.

In simple terms, false advertising is the false or misleading representation of products for financial gain. This includes the exaggeration of a product’s effect, a strategy which has been particularly prominent within the beauty industry through the use of ‘beauty filters’ (a filter to alter a person or product’s appearance, for example changing facial features or body shape).

Although commonplace on social media platforms, any influencer or content creator who uses social media to promote products must ensure that the use of such filters does not seek to exaggerate a product’s effect. Should they do so, this would likely amount to a ‘misleading action’, prohibited under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 for which they will find themselves liable, in addition to any person or corporate entity who was aware of the misleading action and was acting for purposes relating to the business or in the name of, or on behalf of, the influencer or business.

In addition, influencers must be mindful of guidance published by the Advertising Standards Agency which makes clear that “marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product” (rule 3.11). This principle was applied in two recent rulings against advertisements which featured Instagram stories by influencers who promoted tanning products and used a tanning filter which was found to have exaggerated the efficiency of the products and misled consumers.

Once in force, the Online Safety Bill, will place a duty on social media providers to comply with stricter regulations around the monitoring and prevention of fraudulent activity on their platforms. Importantly, the government has broadened the scope of the Bill to include paid-for advertising by scammers, whether they are controlled by the platform itself, or an advertising intermediary. However, at present, the duties of the Bill are placed on the service providers only, meaning influencers themselves, will not be caught under its scope.

Nevertheless, although potentially avoiding capture by the Bill, influencers themselves could still find themselves in breach of contract, and potentially subject to a claim for financial damages, if the contract between the influencer and the brand prohibits the influencer from engaging in image manipulation, or otherwise causing the brand to breach relevant laws. It will become ever more important for brands to include this type of clause in their influencer agreements in the future.

As has been mentioned, the draft Bill has been through a large number of changes over the last 5 years, and will no doubt continue to do so as it continues its passage through Parliament. However we can be confident that when the Bill becomes law, it will require brands, influencers and social media companies to review and update their practices.

Ian Manners and Brett Lambe are with ASHFORDS LLP


TOPIC: This week’s fine imposed on Facebook data

COMMENT BY: Christine Caffrey, data protection solicitor, SA Law

“The record fine against Meta (Facebook) for breach of the GDPR highlights how getting it right when it comes to international data transfers is not always easy.  Whereas data transfers within the EU can be relatively straightforward on the basis that all parties are expected to uphold the same standards when it comes to transferring data under the EU GDPR, transatlantic transfers can be more complex.  

Without the benefit of a similar mechanism in place, it had widely been understood that the US privacy standards do not match those in the EU. However, more recently the US implemented the long-awaited EU-US Data Privacy Framework (the successor to the former US Privacy Shield) and there is a draft adequacy decision pending from the EU in which it is anticipated the mechanism will be approved.  In theory this should ensure a smoother transfer of data across the pond and reduce the problems that have arisen in the past, including (as in Meta’s case) with the use of SCC’s (standard contractual clauses). However, many hold concerns that the new framework will still not match the expectations of the GDPR and afford EU data subjects the protection required.”

TOPIC: The fifth year anniversary of GDPR

COMMENT BY: James Castro-Edwards, Data Privacy lawyer at Arnold & Porter

“The enormity of the potential fines the GDPR would introduce generated countless column inches, helping achieve the European Commission’s stated aim of escalating data protection to a corporate board level topic.

“It’s easy to forget that data protection was not always a topic that all companies took seriously, however, since the GDPR took effect, a great many more have done so than might have done otherwise.

It may attract criticism for various reasons, some of which may be justified, others less so. Nonetheless, the GDPR strikes a reasonable balance between protecting individuals’ rights and allowing businesses, public authorities and charities to use data to achieve their aims.

“The application of the GDPR is continually evolving, thanks to a wealth of case law and guidance generated by the courts, data protection authorities and the European Data Protection Board. It will always be a work in progress to some extent, however, on balance, the GDPR works.”



Simon Goldring (left)is to join Excello Law, the ‘consultancy model’ law firm. Formerly Head of International Tax and Private Wealth in

McDermott Will & Emery’s London office, Goldring is a Chartered Tax Advisor as well as a Solicitor and is a highly experienced in international private wealth and tax matters. His clientele ranges from ultra high net worth individuals and family offices to multinational corporations.

Through Excello Law, Goldring will assist both his UK-based clients and those international clients who live or work in the UK or invest in UK businesses or property. Regarding Excello, Goldring said, “I am delighted to become a partner in this innovative firm, which enables me to assist my UK centric clients in a very cost-effective manner, whilst at the same time enabling me to explore other business opportunities globally.”

In fact, Goldring has also established his own tax and trust business in the UAE – Goldring Tax and Trust Services LLC-FZ, where he provides tax and trust advice, and is registered to prepare wills for non-Muslims in the Dubai International Financial Centre.

“We are delighted to welcome Simon to Excello Law,” said Joanne Losty, Excello’s Chief Operating Officer. “We take pride in being the preferred destination for highly experienced lawyers and actively seek out experienced individuals, teams, and firms who share our vision of a smarter way to work, fostering collaboration within a dynamic setting.”


Jonathan Steele (left) is joining Stevens & Bolton as a partner in the firm’s corporate practice. Previously with Charles Russell Speechlys, Steele has experience in the healthcare, technology and media sectors having worked with clients from their start-up stage to becoming listed public companies. His expertise covers a range of matters including mergers and acquisitions, corporate investments and restructurings.

The Stevens & Bolton corporate practice continues to go from strength to strength, with one of the largest mid-market M&A teams outside the City and a particular specialism in executing buy-and-build strategies for corporate acquirers.,” commented James Waddell, the firm’s Managing Partner, “Jonny is a great addition to our really strong corporate partner bench and we are delighted to welcome him to the firm.”

In recent months Stevens & Bolton has attracted new entrants from a number of high profile firms including Irwin Mitchell, Rosenblatt and Shoosmiths.

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And enjoy the Bank Holiday Weekend!