FSA says it will target City professionals in insider dealing fight

first_imgCity professionals are a priority target for the Financial Services Authority in its battle against insider dealing, the watchdog said this week.The FSA has begun insider dealing prosecutions against two lawyers who had worked in the London offices of US law firms.According to court papers, Andrew Rimmington, formerly a partner at Dorsey & Whitney, and Michael McFall, formerly a partner at McDermott Will & Emery, are accused of insider dealing when pharmaceutical company NeuTec Pharma was taken over by Novartis in 2006.Dorsey and McDermott said they did not provide legal advice on the takeover.Rimmington and McFall will appear before London magistrates on 16 June, along with Peter King, former finance director at NeuTec.An FSA spokeswoman said: ‘Our current strategy on insider dealing focuses on our priorities in this area which are City professionals, repeat offenders and insider dealing rings.’last_img read more

Learn more →

Factory flaw

first_imgThe newly announced Claims Process for RTA claims valued up to £10,000 is the latest attack on the rights of those injured in road traffic accidents. The outstanding ‘achievement’ of the Predictable Costs regime is that many claimants are now represented by so-called claim factories, that are forced to employing cheap, inexperienced clerks to run PI claims. It seems this rot is set to worsen with the vast majority of cases under the new regime attracting costs of only £1,200. This is compounded by a regime that, among other limitations, forces the claimant to accept the opinion of a medical expert, which simply cannot be challenged, and which must be disclosed 15 days from finalisation. This means that claimants will no longer be able to exercise their right to challenge the opinion of a medical expert or obtain alternative evidence before disclosure. Much worse, claimants will no longer be able to await the expiry of a declared prognosis period to ensure it is actually accurate, before having their claim resolved. How many claimants will have their claims forcibly adjudicated by the court during a prognosis period, only to return to their solicitors months after to complain that they are still suffering? In (what will no doubt be rare) cases, where the prognosis period does expire before the claim is resolved, there are provisions within the new rules to allow for medical opinion to be obtained outside of the process, and for oral hearings to take place. However, in such cases the claimant will effectively have to obtain alternative evidence to defeat his or her primary medical evidence and convince the court the latter evidence is correct, while costs will remain restricted to the paltry sums allowed by the regime. Claimant solicitors should be forgiven for having little enthusiasm to take such cases forward, given the risks and self-defeating financial implications involved in doing so. Whether at that point solicitor practices will even be able to afford to employ those with the necessary expertise to do so is also highly questionable. We can however take comfort from the fact that the latter situation will be rarity, as most cases will be forced to under-settle before the prognosis period expires. Christopher Hibbert, Sheldon Davidson Solicitors, Manchesterlast_img read more

Learn more →

Woolf at the door

first_imgThe ‘statutorily senile’ Lord Woolf, to quote his own words, entertained a capacity crowd last week with a lecture to the London Solicitors Litigation Association. The former lord chief justice was on fine form, Obiter is pleased to report. Spare no sympathy for criminal lawyers in portakabins, he said, referring to overcrowding at Woolwich Crown Court. ‘We civil litigators will be lucky to get portaloos.’ Woolf, who was the author of the sweeping Woolf reforms of the civil justice system in 1999, said he had never understood why people took on litigation, but was grateful they had enabled him to ‘earn an honest crust’ at the bar. Transparency, of which he had been a strong advocate, could be taken too far, however. He recalled a surgeon who was due to operate on his elderly mother, who recognised Woolf for his clinical negligence work. Exacting revenge, the surgeon treated Woolf’s ageing mum to rather more transparency than she really wanted by giving her a slice-by-slice preview of the operation she was about to undergo. Woolf took questions after the lecture, but warned he would soon ‘rush off’ to the launch of the Supreme Court: ‘I can’t miss a free drink from the lord chancellor.’ Obiter raises a glass in salute.last_img read more

Learn more →

A Tanzanian teaching experience

first_img John Irving is director of LPC training and development at BPP Law School One of the greatest rewards for any coach, mentor or trainer in the development process is to be able to help individuals and teams realise their potential and develop their talent. The ‘dream’ scenario is that, before your eyes, skills are gradually mastered, performance improved and confidence built and sustained, especially when challenged by the inevitable uncertainties, challenges and difficulties that can arise. One of the most satisfying parts of my role has always been the coaching, mentoring and development of new and existing tutors. For many years I have been designing and delivering a comprehensive five-day teacher training and ‘train the trainer’ course for tutors, which I aim to gear to the specific needs of the participants. I was incredibly excited when I was asked by the International Lawyers Project (ILP) to transport our course to Tanzania to provide training for the Tanzanian Law School’s part-time staff. At this early stage of the evolution of the school the tutors were keen to share best practice on teaching law students on the Tanzanian equivalent of our Legal Practice Course. In particular, the Tanzanian tutors were interested to receive detailed training on the facilitation of ‘learning by doing’ (LBD) to enhance student application, analysis and levels of learning. An additional challenge for the tutors was to adapt such interactive training skills to working at certain times with classes of up to 50 or even 100. We spent a truly special week with an incredibly friendly and talented group of Tanzanian tutors. We were based in excellent conference facilities at the White Sands Hotel, about 30 minutes north of the centre of Dar Es Salaam, or three times that if you got caught in the horrendous Dar traffic. It was extraordinary to be extolling such topics as the virtues of student-centred learning and the most effective techniques for facilitating group work alongside shimmering white sands and the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean crashing onto the shore. It soon became clear to us that the tutors had a rich mix of talent and creative potential and were strongly committed to extending the use of LBD in their teaching. However, many of them needed the confidence to move from traditional didactic methods which they had experienced in their own education and which they used in their own teaching, to the more unpredictable, but much more effective student-centred approach. Much careful planning was needed by our team to reflect the Tanzanian legal training system, and some harsh teaching practicalities, plus Tanzanian customs, attitudes, interests and beliefs. Evenings by the beach were not as lazy as you might first think as we worked nightly on revising and even creating new materials, particularly on confidence development – luckily one of our great interests. However, we were inspired by the energy, commitment and inherent creative ability of the Tanzanian tutors. Unlocking the potential and growing tutor confidence was also helped by constantly working on the creation and maintenance of rapport and motivation. This was always achieved by physical activity, sporting analogies (no one believed me when I said England would win the World Cup), laughter and even singing. The fact that all of the tutors avidly followed at least one of England’s top Premier League teams also gave us plenty of ideas for innovative sessions in the course. It is wonderful to reflect now on the great bond we developed with the group. We found we had so much to share and learn from them, something that we had definitely underestimated. For example, Dr Ringo Tenga’s innovative teaching of airspace ownership will live long in our memories and would be a useful addition to the explanatory skills of any property solicitor, tutor or trainer. However, our most precious memory was to watch and feed back on individual tutor presentations on the final day of the course. Each tutor was asked to design and run an interactive activity, which had to include a mix of auditory, kinaesthetic and visual learning. We were thrilled to see the higher level of performance, creativity and increased confidence within the group. We were hugely impressed and feel sure that the Tanzanian tutors can approach their LBD revolution with confidence. There is no question that this was one of the most rewarding projects that any of us have ever been involved in. We were also touched at the excellent feedback we received from the group and especially by the kind words of Dr Fauz Twaib, one of the most experienced tutors, at the end of the course. Dr Twaib has been appointed a High Court judge since the course. I am certain that the course and his appointment were not connected! The administration and support given to us by the ILP and Tanzanian Law School, particularly from acting principal Dr Gerald Ndika, were superb. We also had thanks for the other members of our training team for their creativity, skills, resilience, good humour and commitment which led to such a memorable experience. I know that I speak for all of us by saying that we would be keen to share again in the development journey of the law school tutors, and are grateful to the ILP for giving us this wonderful opportunity.last_img read more

Learn more →

Profession’s growth ‘defies gravity’, SRA figures show

first_imgThe number of practising solicitors in England and Wales has risen sharply to more than 120,000, with their ranks growing at an accelerated rate despite the economic pressures faced by the profession, the latest figures have shown. One leading industry commentator claimed that the rise ‘defies gravity’. Figures from the Solicitors Regulation Authority revealed that there were 120,847 solicitors with practising certificates on 31 December, up 7% on the end of 2009. This represents a faster rate of expansion than in previous years, with the profession having grown by only 2% in 2009 and 2008, and 3% in 2007. An SRA spokesman described last year’s 7% rise as ‘surprising’. The regulator does not collate the information required to enable the figures to be broken down into practice areas or type of firm. Legal services expert professor Stephen Mayson, who has argued that non-reserved activities will increasingly be performed by non-qualified individuals to reduce the cost of providing legal services, described the growth as ‘counter-intuitive’. He said: ‘The number of solicitors keeps going up and up, and defies gravity. There are already too many qualified solicitors in the market, and the more that come in, the more competitive this market is going to get [driving down salaries]. ‘Somewhere along the line something has to give, and that either means qualified solicitors leaving the market and doing something else, or being swallowed up by new competitors in consolidation, [with] lower earnings. ‘It does not mean solicitors will have to exit the market, but there will be consequences somewhere.’ Mayson added that it was difficult to see ‘where the expanding numbers are coming from’. He said: ‘Residential conveyancing, personal injury, high street and legal aid are not areas that are associated with growth in this cycle of the economy. The bigger commercial firms are not hiring in the way that they used to. ‘The [numbers] are at odds with everything that we know is going on in the market.’last_img read more

Learn more →

Avoiding a constitutional standoff

first_img Angelo Micciche, Borlase & Co, Helston, Cornwall I agree entirely with Joshua Rozenberg. Newspapers would help their own cause by just reporting the news and not stretching extra-marital tittle-tattle to several pages in each daily edition. Not door-stepping errant spouses and their young families would also be a good start. I am, however, concerned when specialist firms accuse the press of having a vested interest, when these firms stand to make millions of pounds out of shoring up the self-damaged reputations of the rich and powerful. Privacy may well be a right, but notably, like anti-defamation law, only for those who can afford it. Our courts, executive and the advisers of those seeking super-injunctions should be more worldly wise and acknowledge the ‘Streisand effect’, and the technological and jurisdictional limitations of such a legal remedy. Together with the fourth estate they should give greater respect to the balance of privacy with freedom of the press – both are, along with respect for the legal system, essential for a healthy democracy. A constitutional standoff between the courts and members of parliament would be avoided and the use of what are effectively peacetime D notices for extra-curricular activities would end immediately. Do our senior judges really need more legislation and guidance from parliament, which in any event and in practice would have to be interpreted by judges, in order to balance our freedoms?last_img read more

Learn more →

Caught out

first_imgCricketing solicitor Pete Dodd has been back in touch to say that he was not, as he had thought, the only member of the profession to play in the British team in the Lawyers Cricket World Cup in Barbados. Andrew Bretherton, a partner at Edwin Coe in London, was also fielded, and indeed finished the tournament as leading wicket taker. Well bowled, Brethers!last_img

Learn more →

Would a US-EU trade deal be good for lawyers?

first_imgI have written before about how the current economic crisis is leading to a radical rethinking of structures that impact on lawyers. Here is another initiative which could lead to significant consequences in years to come. There are some who believe that one way out of the impasse facing the euro and the dollar is for the two economies, EU and US, to co-operate more closely. The suggestion is that a reduction of barriers in services, among other things, would lead to a growth in trade and jobs. There are very interesting statistics, running into the trillions, of how dependent the two large economies have become. We are each other’s largest trading partners in services. At the EU-US summit in Washington (28 November) ‘opportunities to grow trade and jobs’ are on the agenda. The US Chamber of Commerce has written to the White House in the run-up to the summit to suggest that, rather than have a large EU-US bilateral trade agreement where disagreement on one item can hold up the whole package, there should be smaller single deals running in parallel, including one on liberalising cross-border trade in services. I am concerned here only with how this might affect lawyers. You might think that there is not much more liberalising that can be done that could affect lawyers between the US and EU. But you would be wrong. Our mutual wishes regarding liberalisation more or less mirror each other. We want to be able to practise wherever we wish in the US, and not just in those states which are currently relatively open such as New York or California. Similarly, they want to practise not just in London, Brussels or Paris, say, but in any member state of the EU (and each member state has different restrictions on practice by foreign lawyers). We want an easier route to qualification as a US attorney, taking into consideration our existing status as a European lawyer – and they would like that in the EU, I have no doubt. The one thing that they have included on past wish-lists is to take advantage of our EU directives on the free movement of lawyers, from which they are currently excluded (since they are not EU lawyers) … and from which we would like them to remain excluded. But will this be up for grabs in any new liberalisation negotiation? There is now a discussion in Brussels about the wisdom of proceeding down the single issue route. There are some large questions at stake. For instance, what impact will such a deal have on other free trade agreements, and on the multilateral system? Most of the service sectors already have open market access to the US, and so what would be the added value of this new proposal? And, maybe most significantly from the lawyers’ point of view, the majority of the remaining difficulties for service sectors in doing business in the US are of a regulatory nature, principally due to the federal structure, and the fact that many service sectors – including lawyers, who are regulated by the state supreme courts – are regulated at sub-federal level: how could such an agreement deliver removal or reduction of these state-level obstacles? The latter is a particularly big hurdle for EU lawyers, since the US doctrine of states’ rights has always meant that it is almost impossible for there to be a consistent US-wide agreement on regulation of foreign lawyers. Of course, I suspect that as usual we will have no control over our fate, which will be decided – like nearly everything nowadays – by economic forces well beyond us. But the CCBE is beginning to discuss its position on these matters. Finally, as a bonus for those who have read so far, I will provide a rare and useful guide, in a few sentences, as to where the main sources of essential information on international trade in legal services can be found. The prime document is a World Trade Organisation note from 2010 on legal services, with fascinating insights. US statistics and other related material on legal services can be found here. Australian statistics and other material can be found here. EU statistics on the movement of European lawyers across borders can be found here. What more do you need by way of Christmas holiday reading? Jonathan Goldsmith is secretary general of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe, which represents about one million European lawyers through its member bars and law societies. He blogs weekly for the Gazette on European affairslast_img read more

Learn more →

‘Difficult’ year ahead for ABS hopeful

first_imgOne of the UK’s leading legal expenses insurers has predicted a ‘difficult’ coming year despite an impending move into the legal profession. Abbey Protection today reported 2011 pre-tax profits of £10.1m – 5% up on the previous year. The company had expected by now to have obtained a licence to become an alternative business structure (ABS) and to have expanded its in-house service and bought an equity stake in a law firm. Chief executive Colin Davison admitted he was ‘disappointed’ to be one of dozens of companies still waiting on the Solicitors Regulation Authority to grant its licence. Chairman Tony Shearer said it will be important to take advantage of new opportunities when they come, as the outlook for Abbey’s small business customers was not improving. He said: ‘UK-based small businesses have faced pressures on their employment levels and taxable income for two consecutive years and we anticipate that these pressures will be present throughout 2012.’ The company increased total revenue from £34.9m in 2010 to £36.2m in 2011, during which time its share price rose by 10%. Meanwhile, the SRA today confirmed it is not yet ready to announce the first successful ABS application almost three months after the process opened.last_img read more

Learn more →

The selective approach

first_imgSubscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Subscribe now for unlimited access Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAYlast_img read more

Learn more →