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Updated: 17 min 30 sec ago

Ban for ‘unauthorised’ public access barrister

8 hours 36 min ago

Nesa Ostadsaffar was not registered as a public access barrister, tribunal finds.

SDT asks if criminal standard of proof is fit for purpose

8 hours 54 min ago

Consultation will resolve long-standing controversy over the threshold for convicting solicitors at tribunal.

SFO arrest warrant as ENRC privilege ruling awaited

9 hours 13 min ago

Three-day battle over privilege concluded earlier this month.

'Potentially damaging' skills shortage costing firms extra £230m

19 hours 40 min ago

Firms urged to embrace apprenticeships after business barometer highlights workforce struggles.

Lawyer in the news: Edward Lishak

19 hours 40 min ago

Consultant at Frederick Rine Solicitors, Hertfordshire.

News in 60 seconds

19 hours 40 min ago

This week’s news in brief.

Attorney general must explain CPS disclosure failings

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 16:53

Shami Chakrabarti says the findings by CPS inspectors 'amounts to a national scandal'.

Ex-Society president spearheads scheme to provide 'virtual' help to vulnerable

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 12:29

The Jeanie Project is hoping to raise £7,500 to pilot scheme with food banks and community groups.

Trump visit spurs 'anti-establishment' protest by law firm chief

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 11:31

Solicitor Mary Monson has hired an open-top bus to highlight Britain's diversity and inclusivity.

Call for 'urgent legal reform' as clin neg damages soar 50%

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 11:25

Clinical negligence litigation fell to its lowest level ever as NHS Resolution mediated more claims than in its entire previous history.

NHS Resolution demands 'urgent legal reform' as clin neg damages soar 50%

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 11:25

Clinical negligence litigation fell to its lowest level ever in 2017/18 as NHS Resolution mediated more claims in 12 months than in its entire previous history. But both the agency and the medical defence lobby are calling for urgent reform, after the change to the personal injury discount rate saw damages payouts soar 50% to £1.63bn.

The figures are published in NHS Resolution’s annual report and accounts. The number of new clin neg claims plateaud in 2017/18 at 10,673 (10,686), while claimant legal costs fell for the first time in years (by 6.4% to £467m). Defence legal costs rose 2.5% to £128m.

The change in the discount rate from 2.5% to -0.75% in March 2017 accounted for £404m of the £549m rise in damages payouts to patients. The Civil Liability Bill currently going through parliament will introduce a new method for working out the rate, with regular reviews by the lord chancellor.

Helen Vernon, NHS Resolution chief executive, welcomed growing engagement in mediation by those who act for injured patients, adding that the agency hopes to build on this so mediation is longer seen as novel in healthcare. But she cautioned that the cost of clinical negligence remains at an all-time high: ’Total provisions for all our indemnity schemes continue to rise, from £65bn to £77bn, which brings a renewed urgency to efforts across government to tackle the drivers of that cost.’ 

Dr Christine Tomkins, chief executive of the Medical Defence Union (MDU) noted that the £77bn figure represents a trebling in NHS Resolution’s balance sheet provisions in three years.  She blamed the rise in claims payouts on a ’hostile legal climate’, warning that individual awards that can now amount to over £20m are unsustainable. 

Tomkins added:  ’The government is listening. Following criticism from both the National Audit Office and the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, the Department of Health and Social Care convened a working group to look at how to manage the cost of clinical negligence to the NHS. But what we now need, in the interest of all users of the NHS, is urgent legal reform.

’One of the topics on the table is repeal of S2(4) of the Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act 1948, which still requires all clinical negligence defendants to fund compensation on the basis it will be used for private, not NHS care, even though there is no guarantee that is how the money will be spent. The MDU has been campaigning for this legal change and others such as fixing claimant’s legal fees and reforming the personal injury discount rate.’

Linklaters' flat PEP lags magic circle peers

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 10:24

Firms profit and profit per equity grew marginally amid soaring profits across the City.

Open justice under threat for economic crime, warns damning report

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 09:49

Open justice is under threat in economic crime due to the way court lists operate, the difficulty of obtaining court documents and the number of hearings now being conducted in private, an anti-corruption non-government organisation (NGO) warns today.

A report by Corruption Watch says the lack of transparency in the English and Welsh courts risks undermining the fight against corruption, as prosecutions lose their deterrent effect.

The report, based on interviews with journalists, public officials, academics and lawyers, identifies a series of areas where open justice is being undermined.

It says court lists do not give enough detail and are not published far enough in advance for journalists to make informed decisions about which cases to attend. In the past year, the report says two major corruption trials and an internationally significant judicial review had not been covered contemporaneously by the press due to poor court lists.

The report also criticises the ‘privatisation’ of court list distribution, with the Ministry of Justice having provided public court listing information free of charge to a private company, which then provides ’privileged access’ only to members of the press willing to pay a ‘sizeable fee’.

Corruption Watch raises concerns over the number of Unexplained Wealth Orders – introduced this year to help authorities to recover illicit wealth – that are proceeding in ‘complete secrecy’, preventing ‘any meaningful scrutiny of this new and powerful tool by civil society and the media’.

According to the NGO, a ‘worryingly high’ proportion of economic crime cases are being affected by reporting restrictions, including four of the six foreign bribery trials to come to court in the past two years, and half of the deferred prosecution agreements to date. In most cases, applications for reporting restrictions in economic crime cases are unopposed by the media, partly because the press are not given advance notice of them, it claims.

Corruption Watch also warns that in the Court of Appeal, court documents often cannot be obtained by the public without instructing counsel for criminal cases. On the civil side, it says heavy bureaucracy means it takes weeks to get hold of a single document, with journalists forced to make multiple trips to the court. ‘A London-based reporter can more easily access documents from any US federal court than the Royal Courts of Justice in London [and] transcripts of hearings are prohibitively expensive, often costing more than £20,000 for a three-week trial.’

The report calls for a number of improvements including for prosecutors of economic crime to publish an online court calendar, as well as other documents such as skeleton arguments and sentencing remarks. It says there should be a list of organisations to be routinely notified of any application for reporting restrictions in economic crime cases.

Corruption Watch is calling on the government to commit to court transparency as part of its forthcoming UK Open Government National Action Plan.

City reacts with frustration to Brexit white paper

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 16:56

Ditching mutual recognition ‘regrettable’, declares lobby group TheCityUK, as the Law Society forecasts a period of ‘tough negotiation’.

Children's charity welcomes immigration legal aid 'U-turn'

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 16:02

Justice minister Lucy Frazer QC MP says LASPO will cover unaccompanied and separated children.

Law firm experience boosts in-house pay - report

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 12:36

Association of Corporate Counsel also finds a shrinking gender pay gap among newer lawyers.

Progress stalls on solicitor judges, latest diversity stats show

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 12:24

Judicial diversity figures released today show a fall in the number of court judges with a solicitor background.

PEP climbs 24% at Travers Smith

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 11:58

‘Silver circle’ firm continues trend of reporting increased profits.

City firm seeks shareholders for huge Glencore group action

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 11:33

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan is seeking shareholders for potential claim that could run into the billions and has a litigation funder on board.

Profits soar at Addleshaws

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 11:08

International firm Addleshaw Goddard has today posted record results, with global revenue up 23% on last year to £242m.

Profit rose 36% to £87m, while the firm maintains strong cash reserves of £34m despite significant investment in staff and infrastructure.

Both revenue and profit have grown year on year for the past four years.

Addleshaws expanded into Scotland in June 2017 through a merger with HBJ. Throughout the year it has added 30 new partners across England, Scotland, Asia and the Middle East.

Managing partner John Joyce said: ‘Income is now nearly 50% greater than 2013, continuing the upward trajectory of the last four years in terms of higher revenues, improved profitability and stronger cash position.

‘This has been driven most recently by our successful expansion into Scotland, ongoing investment in priority sectors and global infrastructure, as well as in the further development of our “intelligent delivery” model [combining technology, process improvements and legal project management techniques], all of which is helping us to better support and service clients.’

He added: ‘Alongside new mandates and panel positions, it is particularly pleasing to see organic growth in key areas such as corporate and infrastructure which we will look to build out further this year, helped by the success we have enjoyed in adding substantially to the strength in depth of our partner team in the UK and internationally. They are all key developments and confidence has never been higher.

‘The firm’s platform has never been better and with the platform we have created we retain huge ambition to build further on it.’

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