Edward Fennell’s Legal Diary – Edition 72

Friday 3 September 2021 

Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and e-vents from the legal world





Make your own interpretation
Image courtesy of Maguire Family Law

Two news stories yesterday – one from a local newspaper, the other from The Times – illustrates the high price that is being paid for family law,

In the first instance an army reservist was convicted and sent to jail for four years for couriering £100K+ worth of drugs. Until fairly recently he had lived an unblemished life with a good career in catering. Unfortunately his marriage break-up led to a dispute over access to his two sons. His legal bills topped £84,000 and he was financially ruined. It was at that point he turned to crime – and then the ruin of his whole life.

The other story is even more poignant. The context was the same – a man pursuing legal action to gain access to his children. When the fees became impossible he tried to steal a catalytic converter from a BMW. He bungled the job and was crushed to death under the car. (You probably read about it).

Surely it should not be beyond the wit of lawyers and the State to come up with a better way of dealing with the repercussions of family break-ups?

The LegalDiarist



In this Week’s Edition


– Bigging it Up (with the Big 4 accountants)

– Tour de Law gets back on the saddle

– Gresham College Spotlights Medical Law

– Our Man in Kabul at RIAA Barker Gillette



+ E-VENTS with Brown Rudnick and Travers Smith


Bigging it Up

Look out on Monday for the publication of Are the Big Four reshaping the future of legal services?’, a report from LexisNexis Legal & Professional®. This argues that the Big 4 accountancy firms are not so much nibbling at the feet of the Magic Circle et al but are instead ‘setting on an altogether different strategy and benefiting from the changing way legal services are delivered through ALSPs.’

According to this analysis the accountants have veered away from their original strategy of trying to rival the established big names but, instead, are ‘bringing disruption to all areas of the legal market by offering clients a higher integration of technology, project management and process management than traditional firms may be able to offer’.

So these accountancy/lawyer hybrids, it is suggested, are less interested in building share of big, high-profile legal work.  “Instead, they are seeking to become the engine room of professional services.” At the heart of this is the harnessing of technology, project management and process management – in other words the kind of things skills that have always been seen to belong more to accountants than lawyers. “By utilising cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, the Big 4 can automate the routine, low value, high volume legal tasks – winning business that is often unwanted….The Big 4 are cornering the market of solutions, rather than advice.”

Put baldly, that sounds like vacuuming up vast amounts of commodity work while leaving the bespoke mandates to the poshos over at Slaughter and May. Nonetheless, it will have a big impact on reshaping the legal sector in London. Someone out there is going to suffer – but if you don’t move with the times then maybe you deserve it.

Tour de Law gets back on the saddle

Our Summer of Sport may now be almost over but a season of activity-based fund-raising is about to begin with the announcement that this year’s Breast Cancer Now’s annual charity cycle race, Tour de Law will be on the road from Monday, 11 to Sunday, 17 October 2021.

And, of course, that is not just ‘on the road’.Barristers’ chambers and law firms can enter an unlimited number of teams (each consisting of up to 10 riders) and the mode of transport can include static bikes at home or in the gym as well as being on the public highway. (Breast Cancer Now can arrange for static bikes to be made available in the office, for those who wish).

Following a record-breaking event in 2020 which saw more firms participate and more donations than ever before Tour de Law will continue with a virtual format. Participants track their distance through Strava, which will be linked to their team’s JustGiving page and automatically update both the distance and fundraising.

“The pandemic has presented a real challenge for charities – so please join me in doing what you can to raise money and awareness,” says Toria Kendrick, a partner at Eversheds Sutherland who has personal experience of breast cancer. “Tour de Law is a great way to bring the office together and raise money for such an important charity.”

Sign up now to join many hundreds of others working in the legal sector in raising vital funds for breast cancer by visiting tourdelaw.breastcancernow.org and keep up to date using the #TourDeLaw hashtag.

Gresham College Spotlights Medical Law

Medical law – what a minefield! From the basics of medical negligence to the profundities of medical ethics we are bombarded constantly by sad and troubling stories of individual pain. And when children are involved – which they increasingly seem to be – its even more complicated.

So the announcement by Gresham College (London’s oldest higher education institution) that it has appointed Imogen Goold as Visiting Professor of Medical Law for 2021-22 promises much of interest. Goold will be giving a series of three free public lectures on issues of great topicality – children and consent to medical treatment, body part ownership and freezing eggs.  

Imogen Goold

Goold is Associate Professor of the Faculty of Law at Oxford and her doctoral research explored the use of property law to regulate human body parts. Her current focus is the legal regulation of decisions regarding children and she is currently working on a book on the law and ethics of decisions about children’s medical care (with Cressida Auckland of the LSE).

“I am a strong believer in Gresham’s mission to bring academic work to the wider community,” she says. “I’ve undertaken public engagement work on abortion law and women’s stories, on human enhancement, and on body part ownership and I believe public engagement and outreach from the academic sphere to the wider public is hugely important.”

The series of lectures starts on 25th October. For more go to https://www.gresham.ac.uk/series/medical-law/

Our Man in Kabul

I was intrigued to see the announcement this week of a merger between London firms RIAA Barker Gillette and Tibber Marks Solicitors. To the LegalDiarist’s shame these are not firms about which much was known in the Legal Diary’s office – a sharp reminder that beneath the top level of big name, big ticket outfits with worldwide client bases there is a mesh of other very good firms but who go about their work in a quieter (but maybe more satisfying) way.

The interesting thing about these two outfits, though, is that they are by no means just limited to London or even the UK. Instead their mission is largely about serving the needs of ‘high-net-worth individuals and entrepreneurial and ambitious businesses’ worldwide.

A long way from Cavendish Square

Further research revealed that RIAA Barker Gillette was not just part of a pan-Atlantic network but that it even had – or did have – an office in Kabul! Certainly it was still there on its website yesterday afternoon. “Mazhar Bangash heads our Kabul office, which services international clients operating in Afghanistan…” it announced. “Mazhar has made significant contributions towards Afghanistan jurisdiction where he advises multinational companies and NGO’s on their corporate matters in the country, including registrations/incorporations; government approvals; licensing; good governance and compliance with regulatory requirements.”

Looks like he will have his hands full over the next few weeks.




The Age Appropriate Design Codekicked in this week. Organisations have had 12 months to implement the necessary changes to ensure that anyof their online services which may be accessed by children in the UK take into account the best interests of the child. BRIDGET TREACYanalyses where we now stand.

“The 12-month transition period to allow organisations to prepare for the Children’s Code (or Age Appropriate Design Code, to give it its formal name) expires this week. From now on the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) expect that organisations which provide online services likely to be accessed by children – including apps, games, and social media services – should comply with the Children’s Code.

The Children’s Code seeks to guide organisations in their design of online services so that the ‘best interests’ of children are protected. This covers a number of concepts, including the child’s right to privacy, their right to information and play and their right to freedom from economic exploitation. The Code sets out 15 technology-neutral design principles and practical privacy features that online services are expected to comply with.

“The ICO has indicated that it will monitor compliance with the Children’s Code through proactive audits but, as in other areas of data protection, it is likely that privacy activists will also monitor organisations’ compliance and bring any apparent shortcomings to the attention of the ICO. The ICO’s enforcement powers include the power to issue warnings, reprimands, ‘stop now’ orders and fines of up to £17.5 million or 4% of annual worldwide turnover for breaches of the UK GDPR.

The ICO has highlighted concerns that children’s data is being used to target children with personalised content and features, including adverts, messages and friend requests, some of which may be inappropriate. In addition, the ICO has drawn attention to ‘nudge’ techniques and other methods that organisations use to prompt children to remain online and provide additional personal data.

A range of potential harms to children have been highlighted by the ICO – not just risks of physical or emotional abuse or financial harm, but also psychological harms that may be suffered by children as a result of these nudge techniques, which exploit psychologicalbiases to encourage certain behaviour.

 “Tech and gaming organisations in other jurisdictions, such as the US, are now being encouraged by legislators to adopt voluntarily the standards set out in the UK Code, signalling a global shift in the standards of data protection expected of providers online services offered to children. As part of its work on the use of children’s data, the ICO is also considering the thorny issue of age verification, something that has proven challenging for organisations to implement in a practical way. The ICO intends to set out a formal position on age assurance in the autumn.”

Bridget Treacy, leads the UK privacy and cybersecurity practice at Hunton Andrews Kurth



Genevieve Poirier is joining international disputes firm LALIVE (London) LLP as a partner based in its London office. Poirier is an arbitration specialist and was previously with Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom. Her recruitment is the latest step in LALIVE’s commitment to the strategically important London market, following its launch in the UK in 2018.

Genevieve Poirier

Poirier’s experience covers a broad range of commercial matters, including cross-border disputes in the telecommunications, oil and gas, insurance, shipping and financial services sectors, as well as shareholder disputes. With dual Irish and Canadian citizenship she initially trained in New Zealand, and is now a Solicitor Advocate with rights of audience before the English High Court.

“We are absolutely delighted that Genevieve has chosen to join LALIVE,” said Domitille Baizeau, LALIVE Geneva partner and chair of the firm’s Management Board. “Her disputes focus, international experience and English law expertise fit perfectly with our own practice and plan to continue growing in London as a strategic market. This is an exciting development for the firm.”




Brown Rudnick’s Women in Business Series
In Conversation with Shelley Lawson
Brown Rudnick is proud to announce the next in our series of events celebrating inspirational and thought-provoking speakers, who will share their professional experiences and achievements. At our next Women in Business event, we will be joined by Shelley Lawson, Co-Founder of award winning children’s bike brand Frog Bikes, who will speak about their growth story, the challenges of manufacturing in a pandemic, and Frog’s ambitions to decarbonise.Please note this event will take place online only. As we move later in the year, we hope to host our Women in Business series in person at our Mayfair offices, while maintaining the option to join remotely for those who feel more comfortable doing so. Date: 8 September 2021
Time: 17:30 – 18:30 UK
Location: This event will take place online
RSVP Add to calendar Join the event here
International employment law podcast series

Episode 1: Hiring in Ireland
Welcome to the second in our series of podcasts focusing on international employment law.In these three episodes we will be speaking to Head of Employment, Duncan Inverarity at A&L Goodbody.We will be discussing key employment law issues and things to think about when employing staff in Ireland, considering the start of employment, the end of employment and other key aspects of Irish employment law.Listen to episode 1



We hope that you’ve found this edition of the LEGAL DIARY interesting – and even useful.

We will be back next Friday but travelling the week after (which means no edition on Friday 17th) so do continue to send yout Diary news, insights and comment to






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