Friday 27 August 2021
Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and e-vents from the legal world
SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK – AGILITY: DO YOU HAVE IT?
In an article in this week’s Business Leader magazine Gill White, a Partner at Howard Kennedy comments, “The pandemic underlined how important it was for businesses to continue to have nimble reactions and an innovative mindset.” The quality which she went on to highlight most was ‘Agility’. It’s a brilliant attribute right now because it implies that businesses – including, of course law firms- must be constantly and remorselessly re-organising and re-shaping themselves, twisting and turning in response to quickly changing circumstances – whether that be Covid, WFA, equalities and, above all, client requirements.
Typical of this (as reported below) is the new office deal that Travers Smith has secured in Stonecutters Court. The agreement for nine floors of the new building can be varied up or downwards because, frankly, who can predict what might be happening in 2025 when the move takes place.
The consequence must, inevitably, that horizons get shorter and shorter. So for example, it could be unwise to read too much in the decision by Reed Smith to cut 66 legal secretary roles in the firm. The call is right for now but does not necessarily have long-term implications. By 2025 those legal secretaries might be back in favour and the firms scrabbling around to recruit. But agile employers need an agile workforce. Fixing that could be the biggest challenge of all.
IN THIS WEEK’S EDITION
+ LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK
– African Paralympians On The Telly Thanks to Hogan Lovells
– Brain Injury – How Lawyers Can Help
– Sorry kids, it’s all gone, says 007
– Snow Dissolves but Stone Cuts It for Travers Cmith
+ LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK: POST-BREXIT SHAKE UP OF DATA RULES
+ LEGAL INSIGHT OF THE WEEK : UNDERSTANDING THE COMPLEXITY OF GMP EQUALISATION GUIDANCE
+ LEGAL APPOINTMENT OF THE WEEK at Browne Jacobson
+ E-VENTS with Gatehouse Chambers
LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK
– African Paralympians On The Telly Thanks to Hogan Lovells
As the Paralympics gets into its stride over the next couple of weeks Hogan Lovells has made its particular contribution to the success of the Games by supporting the ‘Para Sport Against Stigma’ project and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC)’s free-to-air broadcast of the Games across Sub-Saharan Africa.
If the Paralympics are going to be successful in their aim of normalising high level sports participation for those with disabilities then its reach has to be truly global. We have already seen this year the enormous impact that Africa-based sportspeople made at the Olympics but there remains a problem on the continent when it comes to stigma and discrimination against people with disabilities.
Thanks to Hogan Lovells’ backing and pro bono activity African viewers are now able to watch for the first time the live broadcasts of the opening and closing ceremonies plus daily 52-minute highlights packages of African-centred content in English, French, and Portuguese. The project also sits alongside the IPC’s “I’mPossible” campaign to work with National Paralympic Committees of Ghana, Malawi, and Zambia to deliver education programmes to assist the countries in meeting their commitments under the Convention of the Rights of the Disabled.
“The broadcast initiative of the Para Sport Against Stigma project provides leadership to address the inequalities faced by people with disabilities,” said Yasmin Waljee the firm’s International Pro Bono Partner. “Our support for inclusion and social change across Africa is an example of our strong commitment to diversity and inclusion and responsible business.”
Brain Injury – How Lawyers Can Help
With increasing accounts of footballers and rugby players who are suffering the longterm effects of heading and scrummaging there is increasing awareness of the problems that arise from brain injury. Now the Brain Injury Group – a network of specialist lawyers providing support to brain injured people and their families – has been joined by Clarke Willmott LLP another high profile firm specialising in this work.
Gaining accreditation as a BIG member involves a robust application process and demonstrating a high level of expertise and experience in brain injury litigation. “It’s great to have this accreditation and to work with like-minded organisations across a range of professions who are experienced in dealing with acquired brain injuries to secure the best results for our clients,” said Chris Thorne, the firm’s head of personal injury and medical negligence.
Astonishingly, as many as one million people attend hospital each year suffering from some form of head trauma or brain injury. A significant number will then suffer on-going symptoms ranging from mild, short-term difficulty with memory, through to severe lifelong cognitive disability. Clarke Willmott’s team of brain injury solicitors specialise in dealing with these issues which arise including bringing claims for brain injury compensation and advising on issues relating to capacity, financial affairs and care. With its new accreditation Clarke Willmott can now provide a complete package of support to those affected.
Sorry kids, it’s all gone – I’m down to my last cufflinks
It is not clear whether the daughters of actor Daniel Craig (aka, James Bond) have the licence to kill him given his £100M+ wealth but there’s no point in doing so following his high-minded announcement that they cannot expect anything from his will. Indeed he has said that inheritance is ‘quite distasteful’.
Mind you, he has a point. There is a long and sad list of heirs to great fortune who have been ruined by being everything on a plate – everything, that is, except good judgement and a wise steer on life. A bottomless pit of money is less than it might seem.
As Ann Stanyer, a Partner at Wedlake Bell, observes, “Great wealth comes with great responsibility. Clearly ensuring your family has a good start in life is one thing but to hand over millions when they are young and able to earn for themselves can be destructive. To be remembered as a great philanthropist and to be thought well off after your death is far and away a better course to take.”
Stanyer goes on to say that many people in Daniel Craig’s position would set up a foundation to ensure that their wealth provides a lasting legacy for good causes rather than a harmful cash legacy for their children. “Involving their adult children in the foundation’s vision would ensure continuity with the parent’s goals and allow the parent’s vision to last for future generations and not just the present one.”
As Shakespeare did not quite say, some are born wealthy some achieve wealth, and some have wealth denied them by po-faced parents.
Snow Dissolves but Stone Cuts It for Travers
Travers Smith has announced plans to move from its long-standing perch on Snow Hill to somewhere more central at Stonecutter Court, EC4 close to the Goldman Sachs building, the Deloitte campus and with better access to the courts (a move which will be appreciated by the Disputes team). It will be a sad moment nonetheless for those of us who visited Snow Hill often (as the LegalDiarist did at one time) and enjoyed the sense of being just round the corner from Covent Garden and only a stone’s throw from the site of the historic Snow Hill police station first established in 1840.
But times move on and the thriving Travers team will be moving into a new landmark 13-storey building of which the firm will take nine floors and 158,000 square feet of ‘high-quality and flexible office space’
‘Flexible’ is, obviously, the operative word these days along with ‘modern facilities for cyclists and runners’. They will also be able to add or subtract one floor as they choose. Managing Partner Edmund Reed was absolutely upbeat about the decision. “The move to Stonecutter Court shows our confidence in the future ,” he said. “[It’s an] opportunity to build on our success and allow for growth in the coming years.”
The move will take place in 2025. By then we might have a better sense of what shape the legal industry will be in for the long term.
LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK: POST-BREXIT SHAKE UP OF DATA RULES
In the wake of the UK government’s announcements concerning global data plans, the nomination of the Information Commissioner and launch of an International Data Transfers Expert Council there has been plenty of comment – most of it supportive – from lawyers.
The UK is taking the lead
“The UK is starting to show that there is room for diversion from EU data protection law whilst still retaining the GDPR as a framework. What this means in practice is that the way in which international data flows are approached is not identical to the way the same data flows are treated in the EU, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that the protection is going away. It does not mean doing away with the GDPR framework but adapting it to make it as progressive and effective as possible.
“For example, the notice and consent model is not suited to regulating cookies and other sophisticated technological ways to gather data about our electronic interactions. The UK knows that and the EU knows that. It seems that the UK is taking the lead in finding an alternative more effective way to protect online privacy while allowing us to use the Internet without so much friction. That is not an easy task and will require a regulatory policy that is technology-friendly but robust in enforcing data protection by design and by default.”
Eduardo Ustaran, Co-Head of the global Privacy and Cybersecurity practice at Hogan Lovells
“The UK plans do not necessarily mean divergence from GDPR. It is possible to improve the data privacy regime and how it works in practice without lowering the level of protection for individuals. This is a positive development and should be encouraged in the UK and in the EU, too.
UK ambitious international data flows and adequacy plans are the right thing to do. The government recognises the importance of data flows for economy, people and society at large and wants to enable trusted and responsible data flows. Just because the UK government may be more agile, flexible, risk-based and outcomes-driven in how they determine adequacy does not mean this will result in lower level of protection for people and their data. In fact, likely the opposite is the case. Looking at a whole picture of how privacy protections work in practice in third countries may be better for individuals then a theoretical line by line comparison of legal texts. We should not be judgemental of countries doing things their own way as long as they achieve the same outcomes.
Businesses in all sectors will welcome a more seamless regime for data transfers and adequacy decisions in respect of more countries. Data privacy officers are spending too much time and precious resources on dealing with legalities of data flows from the EU, especially in the aftermath of Schrems judgement, instead of doing more pressing work on privacy by design, risk impact assessments and building long term privacy culture and programmes for the new digital economy. I hope the UK example will inspire the EU and other countries to follow suit.
Delighted to see the news of the new UK ICO. This will be a critically important role for the UK in the next 5 years and John Edwards is well placed to lead the new chapter for the ICO. Thumbs up for choosing a candidate with privacy, data policy and international expertise!”
LEGAL INSIGHT OF THE WEEK : UNDERSTANDING THE COMPLEXITY OF GMP EQUALISATION GUIDANCE
Following the updating of its guaranteed minimum pension (GMP) equalisation guidance (to account for the Lloyds 2020 judgment) the Pensions Administration Standards Association (PASA) has set out the role of transferring schemes and receiving plans in individual transfers. Here Max Ballad considers whether we now have a realistic solution to the GMP equalisation question.
Pension scheme trustees are still dealing with the ramifications of a judgment in 1990 (Barber v Guardian Royal Exchange) that occupational pensions must be equal for men and women. Many schemes which were contracted out of the State pension scheme provide members and their spouses with Guaranteed Minimum Pensions which are defined by statute to be different for men and women. Until recently, most schemes have ducked the GMP equalisation problem due to its complexity and uncertainty as to what needed to be done. Recent judgments in relation to the Lloyds Bank pension schemes have confirmed however that trustees must equalise benefits to remove the discriminatory effects of GMPs.
That is a big problem for trustees because they not only need to equalise current benefits, they also need to look at all the transfer values they have paid for members over the last 30 years and see if they need to make any top-up payments. The recent Lloyds judgment confirmed that there is no statutory limitation period for members’ claims to top-ups from assets held by the trustees.
Fortunately, some help is at hand in guidance which has been issued by the Pensions Administration Standards Association which does a good job of explaining the mess schemes find themselves in and how trustees may discharge their obligations in a pragmatic way.
It isn’t going to be easy and in some cases the administration costs might exceed the amounts involved. Trustees may look to forfeiture provisions in their scheme rules but in most cases these are unlikely to apply. The practical problems are likely to be considerable: data on past transfers may be missing or incomplete, former members will need to be traced and the trustees will need to find a way to discharge their liabilities, hopefully without incurring too many costs.
Max Ballad is Legal Director, Arc Pensions Law
APPOINTMENT OF THE WEEK at BROWNE JACOBSON
Kay Chand has joined Browne Jacobson as a technology projects partner as part of a further expansion of the firm’s TMT practice.Chand was formerly at DAC Beachcroft and has more than15 years’ experience of advising on complex/critical change and business transformation programmes including digital transformation projects. She has worked with a range of clients in the financial services and central government sectors, working alongside decision makers to provide commercially pragmatic advice.
“Kay is a highly regarded commercial and innovative technology expert who I am delighted to welcome to the thirteen partner strong team,” said Declan Cushley, partner and head of the firm’s TMT Group. “Her specialist expertise in handling high profile complex IT projects together with her wealth of experience of working with a number of our key sectors are a great fit for the firm and our wider commercial practice.”
Gatehouse Chambers Brew
Till death us do part? The problem of predatory marriages
11:00 AM – 11:30 AM | Wednesday, 15th September 2021
We are delighted to announce the date for our Private Client Team’s next Gatehouse Chambers #Brew on Wednesday 15th September 2021 at 11am.
Edward Rowntree, Charlotte John and Oliver Hyams will look at predatory marriages as a species of inheritance fraud.
Predatory marriages are back in the news as a result of a campaign to change the law with the aim of giving greater protection to vulnerable people against exploitation through marriage as a means of securing an inheritance.
The brew will discuss:The test for capacity to marry;The legal consequences of a marriage where a party lacks consent, including the impact of marriage on inheritance rights;What can be done to prevent a predatory marriage or to remedy the situation in life and what, if anything, can be done following the death of the vulnerable person;The merits of the proposed changes to the law.
We will circulate the joining instructions in due course.
If you have any questions or wish to register please e-mail email@example.com.
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