Friday 14 January 2022
Diary news, commentary, insights, and appointments from the legal world
SHORT THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Double Standards: When do they apply?
It has not been a good week for overweight, late middle-aged men. Boris Johnson and the man-formerly-known-as-HRH are both facing investigations, in different chambers, to establish the facts and decide whether or not laws and regulations had been broken. The parallels between them seem clear – a casual approach to the rules and an assumption, anyway, that they would not be applied to them.
In both cases what lies ahead legally remains to be seen. However, in the court of public opinion the verdict is already evident – ‘Guilty’. As in the case of the Colston Four, the issue of ‘evidence’ – for anyone other than a purist – has become a bit of irrelevance. The two of them are damned – all that remains is the sentence.
Editorial Note: Each week the Legal Diary endeavours to represent the diversity of the legal sector – and we think that normally we succeed (at least up to a point). This week events fell out such that all our subjects and contributors are white and male. But sometimes that’s just the way life is.
In this week’s edition
+ Legal Diary of the Week
– ‘It’s not all about money you know’, say young lawyers
– Charitable partnerships announced at Browne Jacobson
– Hunters Hunt Down Hood
– PII Killing Off Sole Practitioners
+ Legal Comment of the Week
Prince Andrew’s US law dilemma
Illegality of VIP lanes for Government’s PPE Procurement
+ Contributed Article of the Week
The “Panama Papers” Investigation – An Offshore Triumph Journalists Are Struggling to Repeat says Andrew Park
+ Appointments of the Week
Featuring Wedlake Bell and VBB
E-VENTS with Gresham College
LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK
‘It’s not all about money you know’, say young lawyers
Lawyers’ earnings, their workload, job satisfaction and stability are in a constantly changing relationship. But the old presumption that high pay equals low lawyer turn-over is now being turned on its head according to the latest findings on the ‘State of the Legal Market’ from Thomson Reuters.
Although primarily focused on the US market much of what the report says rings true for the UK as well. In particular the analysis was clear that firms with the lowest turnover are not necessarily those with the highest compensation growth. “In fact, they tend to have the lowest compensation growth among firms in the market,” says Thomson Reuters. “These initial results run counter to many previously held notions, as the report concludes that the loyalty lawyers feel to their firms and their willingness to work hard is not simply, or even primarily, driven by compensation.”
Many younger lawyers, it seems. may now be giving higher priority to intangible factors, such as feeling appreciated and recognized, as well as work/life balance and mental well-being.
Hybrid work and operational efficiency are also now high priorities and firms will have to determine how to manage key areas including equitable assignment of work, mentoring, evaluations, career advancement, and maintaining firm culture in hybrid work environments.
“Much of firms’ successful recovery has been a result of their willingness to adapt quickly and decisively in response to the challenges of the pandemic,” said Paul Fischer, president of Legal Professionals, Thomson Reuters. “Adapting to the rapidly evolving needs of the post-pandemic workforce will require expanding that risk-taking and decisiveness into areas such as operations, support staff, and technology to drive additional efficiency gains.”
Download the 2022 Report on the State of the Legal Market at
Charitable partnerships announced at Browne Jacobson
Browne Jacobsonhas announced that each of its five offices across England will be partnering with a local charity over the next couple of years for both fundraising activities and a range of other collaborative undertakings. Among the initiatives planned are mentoring and interview support for young people, running introduction to law workshops, helping out on breakfast projects for homeless, contributing to volunteering projects and providing the charities with pro-bono advice around HR, governance and marketing.
“We are very passionate about supporting local causes and giving back to the communities we are connected to,” said Browne Jacobson’s managing partner Richard Medd, the Community Action sponsor at the firm.
“We look to work with organisations and services that like us are pushing for positive societal change so we are glad to be teaming up with each of these valuable charities that after what has been another challenging year for the sector are in need of funding more than ever. The fantastic work and messages that each of these charities and not-for-profit organisations do and promote has really resonated with our people this year and their focus chimes with our own ethos and values around social mobility, diversity and inclusion.
In the financial year 2020 – 21, the firm raised and donated over £42,000 for good causes across its five-office network.
Hunters Hunt Down Hood
Enter the New Year and enter a new Senior Partner at Hunters Law LLP, the upmarket Lincolns Inn Fields law firm. Henry Hood joined the firm as an articled clerk in 1985 where he started in commercial litigation. However, he switched interests to become the firm’s sole family lawyer and has progressed up spectacularly from there culminating in being named as ‘Family Law Partner of the Year’ at the prestigious 2021 Family Law Awards. He now specialises in high value financial claims in divorce, with his recent clients including Peter Phillips, the Queen’s grandson. Appropriately enough he is also an experienced adviser on pre-marital wealth protection and sensitive children matters.
Arif Kamal, Chief Finance and Operations Officer at Hunters, commented: “Henry’s leadership of the Family team is charismatic, passionate and open-minded, and reflects his commitment to holistic advice achieved through cross-departmental collaboration, making him an excellent fit for the Senior Partner role.”
His predecessor Paul Almy occupied the role for ten years – so expect Hood to be around for some time.
PII Killing Off Sole Practitioners
The increasing costs ofprofessional indemnity insurance (“PII”) premiums – especially for small firms – has been a mounting problems for years. Now though it is actually changing the shape of the market by driving independent legal practitioners into the arms of larger firms as consultants – in effect the unsustainable cost of insurance is withering the sole practitioner workforce.
For example, Taylor Rose MW reports that it has more than doubled the number of consultant solicitors in its legal consultancy division within the past year. And supporting this trend, unsurprisingly, is the increased acceptance of home working due to the pandemic.
But the figures are startling. A recent report1 from Lexis Nexis revealed that PII has increased by an average of 30% among SME firms, with two-thirds of respondents saying the cost of PII was one of the biggest threats to their firm. Meanwhile accountancy firm Mazars said that closures of law firms following failure to secure insurance had increased sixfold in five years. It is no surprise then that the number of sole practitioners regulated by the SRA has dropped by 5% in the past 6 months alone.
“Increasing PII premiums have particularly impacted smaller firms and sole practitioners and it is having a marked impact on their appetite to keep operating independently,” said Adrian Jaggard, CEO, Taylor Rose MW. “We are seeing a lot of experienced solicitors who no longer want the responsibilities of compliance and increasing operating costs, and instead are seeking the relative security and freedom of operating as consultants. This is certainly a contributing factor to the fast growth of our consultancy division.”
Taylor Rose MW’s consultant solicitor platform is one of the top four in the UK, and occupies the number one spot in the property sector and in consumer law.
LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK
TOPIC: Prince Andrew’s US law dilemma
FROM: Thomas Garner
Prince Andrew’s team will no doubt consider whether there is to be an appeal. If he were to appeal this is likely to delay matters further.
If there is no appeal, or if his appeal is unsuccessful, then the matter will proceed towards trial as per Judge Kaplan’s directions.
These directions will involve the service of evidence and the taking of depositions, and each stage will bring further embarrassment to the Prince and the Palace here.
Should the matter proceed to trial, there obviously remains the question as to whether Andrew would testify in court.
To date, the Prince has denied any and all wrongdoing in the strongest possible terms, but as this is a civil matter in theory at least it is of course possible that a settlement may be reached with Ms Giuffre which avoids the need for a trial.
Thomas Garner is an Extradition Partner at Fladgate,
TOPIC: Illegality of VIP lanes for Government’s PPE Procurement
FROM: Jonathan Compton
The case demonstrates how important it is for authorities, public bodies or indeed private individuals to have a regard to their legal duties and procedures. Sometimes, as in this case, the ends justified the means. In other cases, they will not.
In my view the court in this case sought to recognise the strength of the claimant’s case, while balancing this against the pressures on the Department of Health at the height of the pandemic. Surely, this was the correct decision in this case.
Jonathan Compton is a partner at DMH Stallard
CONTRIBUTED ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
The “Panama Papers” Investigation – An Offshore Triumph Journalists Are Struggling to Repeat
As The Guardian / BBC Panorama “Panama Papers” scoops the coveted investigation of the decade award at the British Journalism Awards this was surely an ‘outlier success’ argues Andrew Park
An Undoubted Coup
There is no doubt the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists coordinated investigation struck a rich vein of compromising information. The investigation of c. 11.5m leaked documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca revealed serious irregularities on the part of the law firm and many of its clients and in tax terms alone has led to the known recovery of over £1bn worldwide in evaded or avoided taxes – including c. £200m in the UK.
Many of the irregularities were blatant and easily discerned from leaked correspondence – in many cases, lacking simple attempts at circumspection or “window dressing”. With due deference to their tenacity, journalists did not need sophistication to grasp that practices such as backdating documents or failing to determine or record beneficial ownership pointed towards serious shortcomings.
Subsequent journalistic attempts have proven less fruitful. The 2017 “Paradise Papers” – focusing on a leak from reputable international law firm Appleby and its former trust business – fell flat because c. 6m leaked documents did little other than show a bona fide law firm going about its legitimate business. Private matters were made public, and clients were embarrassed. Sir Lewis Hamilton was shown to have used clever planning to prevent a £3.5m VAT charge on his private jet. However, there was nothing unlawful in what he or fellow clients had done. Appleby took legal action against The Guardian and BBC for their use of the stolen records and forced them to a settlement.
The Latest Endeavours
Most of the offshore world is not like the “Panama Papers”. Present day offshore professionals are generally sophisticated and diligent.
We will see what sort of ICIJ investigation the “Pandora Papers” exposé of c. 12m leaked documents will prove to be. Much will depend on the respective characters of the 14 offshore service providers involved. So far, at least where the UK is concerned, journalists are exaggerating the significance of beneficial ownership information and making public the private business dealings of wealthy people without pointing to any wrongdoing. To justify their raking through stolen documents, journalists need a stronger narrative than “all offshore arrangements are intrinsically wrong”. Those of us who professionally work with that world but are not of it know that simply is not true.
Andrew Park is a tax partner at Andersen LLP in London, specialising in tax investigations, voluntary disclosures and contentious tax
APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK
George Merrylees has been appointed as a partner by Wedlake Bell to its Private Client Offshore Team. A specialist in his field, he is one of the few UK lawyers able to advise on complex matters in French, and offers a unique cultural perspective and unified service to Francophone clients located across the world.
Formerly a partner with Irwin Mitchell, Merrylees’ areas of expertise are cross-border tax planning, asset structuring and succession. He acts for international high net worth individuals, trustees and family offices, with a particular focus on assisting fund managers, business owners, entrepreneurs. He also sits on the Advisory Council of the French Chamber of Commerce and is the chairman of the Franco-British Society.
“I am delighted to join Wedlake Bell’s offshore private client team, and work alongside individuals recognised for their meticulous and exceptional advice on complex cross-border planning,” says Merrylees. “I look to bring my bi-lingual expertise to further enhance the firm’s offering to Francophone clients across the world.”
Johan Mouraux has been appointed as a partner by international independent law firm Van Bael & Bellis (VBB) in its banking, finance and projects practice in Brussels. Previously with DLA Piper, where he was a partner and head of the Belgium office’s finance, projects and restructuring practice group, he brings two associates with him.
Mouraux has experience advising all parties involved in financing transactions, including arrangers, lenders, borrowers, investors, sponsors and public authorities. He has particular expertise in the infrastructure sector, renewables, in real estate finance and in leveraged finance.
Michel Bonne, head of the VBB transactional services team, comments, “Johan’s team adds strong expertise to our wide range of transactional services, in Belgium and abroad. We work continuously with Belgian and multinational clients and the finest independent firms around the globe, and Johan’s expertise fits neatly into our strategic goal of being the go-to independent in the market.”
GRESHAM COLLEGE – HYBRID LECTURE 2pm, Mon 17 Jan
YOUR BODY PARTS AND THE LAW
Visiting Professor of Medical Law, Imogen Goold
Monday 17 Jan, 1pm-2pm, Barnard’s Inn Hall/ Online (or watch later)
You are invited to a hybrid lecture by Professor Imogen Goold on Your Body Parts and the Law; this free public lecture will discuss the current law on body part ownership, explaining how it has evolved, from the early use of convicted criminal bodies for dissection, to changes in the law forced by body-snatching, and the notorious murder of Carlo Ferrari, a 14-year old boy, for his body parts in 1831. It will also look at how the common law has sometimes taken a property approach, while the legislation offers a squarely consent-based model. Goold will discuss where the law is patchy and confusing today and examine the arguments for and against using the law of property to regulate human tissue, and issues of sale and commercialisation. She will particularly focus on challenges posed to the law by emerging uses of tissue, from biorepositories to museum collections to artistic works constructed from human bodily materials.
“Property is a useful and effective legal device to achieve protection for human tissue” – Goold will say in her lecture. “A particular strength of taking a property approach is that it gives us the capacity to determine who has the best claim to an item, and from this to establish who can retain possession of it, use it, transfer it and so on. However far an item travels, property enables us to track these determinations through a string of transfers, interferences and loans.”
You can register for this free lecture via the webpage below and watch it either online or in person (or watch it online on replay, if 1pm on Monday is not convenient).
|The City post-Brexit:
A monthly review of regulatory developments, with Barney Reynolds (Shearman & Sterling) and Ida Levine (III)
CLICK HERE TO WATCH
Why you should watch:
Where to start? Well, maybe the European Commission’s Regulation on the ‘Green taxonomy’. But there’s also the implications of the Chinese property sector problems, the regulatory response to Archegos, the stealthy takeover of the world by blockchain and DLT, the FCA’s initiative on consumer duty and its review of the compensation framework, and the EU’s squeeze on ‘reverse solicitation’. Plus, more broadly, Barney Reynolds’s plea for the UK to dump ‘EU-style’ regulation in favor of a more common law-orientated approach. Lots to chew on. Moderator: Andrew Hilton (Director, CSFI)
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