Biting off more than you can chew

first_imgLong nights and short summers don’t seem to have dulled the wit of Torben Melchior, president of the Danish supreme court. He told last weekend’s plenary session of the council of bars and law societies of Europe in Copenhagen that, despite public and media perceptions to the contrary, courts’ sentencing policies are in step with society’s expectations. But, as in Britain, urban myths persist. He told the story of a woman accosting a man in the street to demand compensation for the dog bite she had suffered. ‘He paid out 1,000 euros and the injured woman limped off. “But why did you pay her?” the man’s friend asked. “You don’t even own a dog!” To which the man replied: “Yes, but if it had gone to court, there’s no knowing what might have happened.”’last_img read more

Kent local authority legal teams join forces

first_imgThree mid-Kent local authorities are to join forces in a shared legal services project that aims to save more than £250,000 a year. Under the new model, legal staff at Swale, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells borough councils will remain based at their authorities but support each other in a ‘virtual’ team. A spokesman for Swale said the model will free up the team and allow ‘qualified staff to spend as much time on fee-earning activity as possible’. Each of the teams has between five and eight members of staff. Three group managers will lead the teams locally and form a shared management team that will include a legal operations manager. Set-up costs of the new way of working include a £25,000 computer system, £20,000 set aside for training and up to £4,000 a year for additional travel. This will be offset by forecast savings of £269,000 a year, 17% of current spending, through ‘redesign, revised management arrangements and procurement efficiencies’, a spokesman said. No staff cuts are planned at the moment. Kent County Council is already known as a pace-setter in running local government legal services on commercial lines. Alasdair Robertson, head of business improvement at Maidstone, said: ‘We are seeing how we can best maximise Kent’s expertise, but it is not the same arrangement.’ Meanwhile, the scandal-hit London borough of Haringey is expanding its legal services department to 80, with five new appointments. Posts include assistant heads of legal services in social care, corporate and litigation, and commercial.last_img read more

Contracts

first_img The applicant (X) applied for a declaration that the English court had no jurisdiction to hear a claim brought by the respondent (C). C and X were domiciled in Switzerland and carried on business as oil traders in Geneva. They had entered into an oral joint venture agreement in relation to the supply of oil. Two sales contracts were subsequently entered into, which provided that they would be governed and construed in accordance with English law. C issued claims for profit and damages in England. X denied that the English court had jurisdiction. C contended that the court had jurisdiction to hear the claims under article 17 of the Lugano Convention 1988, as the parties had agreed under the sales contracts that the courts of England should have jurisdiction. C submitted that there was no inconsistency between the sales contracts and the joint venture agreement as the joint venture agreement had contained no jurisdiction clause. Alternatively, C argued that it was expressly agreed that the joint venture agreement should be subject to English law and jurisdiction or that it contained an implied term to that effect. Held: (1) C’s claims did not fall within the jurisdiction clauses of the sales contracts. The burden was on C to demonstrate that it was subject to the consensus that the English courts had jurisdiction. The jurisdiction clauses in the sales contracts had to be construed against the background of the joint venture agreement. The agreement and the sales contracts were distinct from each other. Given that the parties were in Geneva, it should not be assumed that the joint venture agreement should be governed by the subsequent clauses in the sales contracts. Accordingly, X was entitled to a declaration that the court did not have jurisdiction to determine any claim brought by C. (2) On the evidence, C had failed to prove that it had been expressly agreed that the joint venture agreement was governed by English law. Further, such a term could not be implied into the joint venture agreement. Declaration granted. Choil Trading SA v Addax Energy SA: QBD (Comm) (Mr Justice Field): 28 September 2009 David Lewis (instructed by Hill Dickinson) for the applicant; Geraldine Clark (instructed by Davies Johnson) for the respondent.center_img Agreements – Contracts – Joint ventureslast_img read more

Pro bono conundrum and those left exposed by legal aid cuts

first_imgThe pro bono protocol says work of this nature is ‘always only an adjunct to, and not a substitute for, a proper system of publicly funded legal services’. This can be a difficult distinction at times, but it has been the mantra of the pro bono movement as it has grown over the past 15 years. So when legal aid minister Lord Bach told the joint national pro bono conference this week that there is a ‘dire need’ for pro bono work at a time of a capped legal aid budget, he seemed to be going that one step further – rather than topping up legal aid, pro bono could be the only way to maintain provision in those areas where legal aid is withdrawn. This is a tough issue for the profession to address. It is not for lawyers to relieve the government of its obligation to ensure citizens can secure access to justice, but it would be hard to turn one’s back on those left exposed by legal aid cuts in pursuit of a point of principle. But it will have to be the profession that says ‘only so far and no further’ – it is unlikely the government will do so either now or in the future. More positively, the conference showed how the movement is clearly up to the challenge. There is now a strong, motivated and coordinated cohort of people at the heart of pro bono that the profession can be proud of.last_img read more

Will rising student debt lead to a ‘lost generation’ of solicitors?

first_imgLawyers unite on 3 July to join the Pride London Parade, celebrating and promoting diversity in the profession. It is just 15 years since the Law Society added sexual orientation to its code of practice in respect of discrimination, which illustrates just how contemporary the diversity debate remains in so many of its strands – and how much progress has been made in recent times. Other developments in this sphere are less encouraging. Trainee debt is soaring; 35% have debts of over £15,000 and 55% of more than £10,000. And this is before the government lifts the tuition fee cap, which could treble these figures. Would you have gone to university in the certain knowledge you would graduate owing £50,000? Research published this week by the Sutton Trust Educational Charity showed that a big rise in tuition fees is likely to lead to a dramatic fall in the number of teenagers aspiring to go to university – with those from poorer backgrounds most likely to abandon hope of getting a degree. Staff and students at more than 70 colleges and universities demonstrated against funding cuts, warning of a ‘lost generation’ of learners. As the years pass, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability are likely to diminish in importance as determinants of access to a career (and success within it). That’s a good thing, of course. But in a US-style market for higher education, how much money your parents have got is going to become much more important. Is it time for a graduate tax?last_img read more

Get off the bandwagon

first_imgShould you really be congratulating Lawrence Davies in Lawyer in the News for jumping on the political correctness bandwagon, championing the rights of a Mexican national with a sense-of-humour failure? My own experience of the profession is that too many members take themselves too seriously. Perhaps, sometimes, when approached by a client on a matter such as this, one should just use the well-worn phrase ‘get a life’. JM Harrison, Bournemouthlast_img

Tear down the wall

first_imgStay 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 TODAY Subscribe 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 communitylast_img read more

Legalaid

first_imgStay 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 Subscribe now for unlimited access Subscribe 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 To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAYlast_img read more

Wonders & blunders

first_imgSubscribe now for unlimited access Subscribe 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 Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN 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-newsletterslast_img read more

I pick me

first_imgSubscribe now for unlimited access Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY 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 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 communitylast_img read more