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NEWS - Aug 2007

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Solicitors and other lawyers making the bad news from 2003 to date: News Roundup

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Solicitor admits accessing child porn

Solicitor Brian Rangeley has pleaded guilty to making indecent images of children on his computer. The 49-year-old admitted creating the vile images over a three month period in 2002, when he appeared at Swindon Crown Court. He also accepted possessing indecent images of children during the seven years up to September last year. Rangeley, of Tydeman Street, Gorse Hill, pleaded guilty to seven counts of making indecent images of children and one of possession.

Gazette & Herald

31 Aug

Framed father tells of barrister fake email plot

A father who was framed by a leading barrister in a child custody case has spoken for the first time about the extraordinary chain of events that led to him uncovering the deception. Bruce Hyman, a leading barrister and radio and television producer, is facing jail after admitting to perverting the course of justice earlier this month. He was representing a divorced woman fighting for custody of her four-year-old daughter in September last year when he tried to falsely incriminate the girl's father.


31 Aug

Police launch inquiry into suspected mortgage fraud gangs

Detectives are investigating mortgage fraud rackets after lenders alerted City of London Police to an “unusually high” number of defaults on commercial and residential property loans over the past six months. The reports have led the police to believe that criminal gangs, working with corrupt valuers and solicitors, are obtaining several mortgages at a time to build commercial property portfolios worth millions of pounds.

Times Online

30 Aug

Miners win pay-out

Miners who had compensation money withheld by solicitors have won a major victory against the lawyers. A legal watchdog has stepped into the row over unauthorised deductions from the pay-outs and will now settle the claims, then seek to recover money from solicitors. But, despite the landmark decision by the Law Society's Legal Complaints Service, thousands of pounds is still owed to families in Leigh and MP Andy Burnham is urging people to come forward and make a claim. Overall, 5,044 claims for compensation from the Government's Coal Health Compensation Scheme were lodged by families in the Leigh but Mr Burnham's office has only logged around 150 complaints. Mr Burnham said: "It sickens me that others have sought to make money on the back of the compensation scheme and take money without permission." Anyone who wants the Legal Complaints Service to investigate can contact Mr Burnham's office on 01942 682353

Wigan Today

21 Aug

Probe into legal complaints handling launched

The Legal Complaints Services (LCS) has launched a ‘pre-consultation study’ into its plans to publish the complaints handling track records of law firms. The LCS has commissioned market research agency Gfk NOP to conduct the consultation, which aims to gauge the impact such a move would have on the legal profession. The consultation will include an online questionnaire at www.lawsurvey.org. Deborah Evans, the LCS’ chief executive, said that the service believes that “good firms” would not be threatened by the publication of complaints data.

The Lawyer

20 Aug

Fraud victims ignored by government, says study

Victims of fraud and corporate scams often suffer more than victims of violent crime but are largely ignored by the government, according to a study published today. The research for the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College found that victims of corporate crime are affected on a number of fronts "producing emotional, psychological, behavioural, physical and financial reactions that can be long-lasting". However, the true extent and effects of white-collar crime are understated because fraud is not recorded in the British crime survey, the principal measure of criminal activity. The government does little to protect potential victims of corporate fraud or help those who have suffered at the hand of rogue operators, the report says. It takes issue with the presumption of regulators that the best protection for consumers of financial products is information and freedom of choice. Basia Spalek, a criminologist at the University of Birmingham who wrote the report, based her findings on interviews with victims of the Maxwell pension scheme scandal and of the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. (What do the lawyers have to say about this? UJ)

Financial Times

20 Aug

Down with 'Tesco law' – a call to arms

Plans to deregulate the legal market may threaten the existence of small practitioners but they can compete on service, says one High Street lawyer

If you wanted to buy a bunch of bananas, you would not visit your lawyer. Likewise, if you wanted legal advice you would not go to your local corner store or supermarket. But that may change if plans to deregulate the UK legal market go ahead allowing supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda to add legal advice alongside services such as banking and insurance.

Times Online

20 Aug

How should we assess the cost of lawyers' mistakes?

Is it right that courts still assume the worst of lawyers whose negligence has damaged a client's cause of action?

In 1722, the curious case of Amory v Delamirie came before the court. A chimney sweep’s boy had found a jewel. He took it to a goldsmith to be valued but was told it was worth one and half pence. When the boy asked for the jewel back, the goldsmith’s apprentice returned the setting but pocketed the jewel. The boy later sued the goldsmith. There was a problem, however: what value should be placed on the missing jewel? In a charming instance of redistributive justice, the judge told the jury that “unless the defendant did produce the jewel, and shew it not to be of the finest water, they should presume the strongest against him, and make the value of the best jewels the measure of their damages”.

Times Online

15 Aug

Business fraud in UK rises 42%

Business fraud is becoming more attractive because of growing rewards and falling chances of prosecution, according to BDO Stoy Hayward. Its Fraudtrack report found that fraud involving businesses hit £538m in the first half of 2007, up 42% from 2006. It said VAT fraud was so lucrative that criminals only needed to hide away a few percent when they got caught. "Many fraudsters are laughing all the way to their offshore tax haven," said BDO's Simon Bevan. The report said that even those fraudsters who end up going to prison would only serve between two and five years, even for those involved with multimillion pound frauds.


13 Aug

Bevan Brittan bags £1m windfall for SRA fund

Bevan Brittan has helped secure the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) a substantial windfall for its compensation fund. The SRA has recovered £1.3m for the fund, which protects clients from losses caused by dishonest conduct by solicitors. The haul represents the biggest recovery since the fund came under the SRA’s remit. The recovery follows a High Court ruling on thefts at shamed Midlands law firm Payne & Co. Proceedings began after a massive shortfall was uncovered in Payne’s client account in 1995. The firm was subsequently closed down with the name partner struck off and later sentenced to five years in prison.

Legal Week

06 Aug

Scotland must prepare for Clementi

2007 is an important year for Scottish lawyers. It has seen the passing into law of the Legal Professions and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act and it will in all probability see the passing into law of the Legal Services Bill. While the Legal Services Bill will have direct effect only in England and Wales, these effects will be felt far beyond those confines. Is the Law Society of Scotland aware of these issues? And is it doing anything to take the matter forward? The short answer is yes, the society is working very hard on a number of projects. Chief among those are the work on standards and the work on alternative business structures (ABSs). So far as standards are concerned, we recognise that the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission does pose a challenge to the profession to raise its game. We happen to think that standards in the profession are already high, but we would never rest on our laurels, even if there had been no criticism levelled at us.

The Lawyer

06 Aug

The trouble with law is lawyers

Money, Sex and Madness in Canada's Legal Profession

Lawyers are used to negative views and stereotypes about their profession. All lawyers have been forced to argue at one time or another with those who say lawyers are crooks, liars or greedy money-grubbers. So why did Philip Slayton, a former law-school dean and corporate lawyer, write Lawyers Gone Bad, profiling some of the worst examples of these stereotypes? The answer may be that his book could more appropriately have been titled The Legal Profession Gone Bad. Slayton uses profiles of more than a dozen different lawyers who have been disciplined by their provincial professional regulators to criticize the profession as a whole. The legal profession's insistence on self-governance, its business-over-values approach and its conservative ways, are all attacked by Slayton in his assessment of his chosen profession. Slayton's critique shows an insider's awareness of the legal profession's most pressing problems.

The Globe and Mail (Canada)

06 Aug

Top firms and Law Society split over plan to boost competition

A wedge has been driven between Scotland's largest law firms and their regulator, the Law Society of Scotland, over whether the country's legal services market should be opened to competition. The rift became public following the publication last week of recommendations on lifting restrictions in the market for legal services in Scotland by the Office of Fair Trading. The OFT effectively gave the Scottish Executive until the December 2007 at the latest to come up with concrete proposals for reform of the legal services market.

The Herald

06 Aug

Conflict of interest costs Freshfields lawyer £59,000

Barry O’Brien, a former head of corporate finance at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, has been fined £9,000 and has agreed to pay a further £50,000 in costs over his conflicted role in Philip Green’s aborted takeover of Marks & Spencer. The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal announced the fine this afternoon after it emerged that Mr O’Brien, one of the most respected corporate lawyers in the City of London, would not contest the Law Society's allegations against him. He was fined £5,000 for breaching his duty to a client and £4,000 for bringing his profession into disrepute.

Times Online

06 Aug

Refco lawsuit
Thomas Lee sues law firm over Refco role

Buyout firm Thomas H. Lee Partners has sued law firm Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw over the firm's alleged role in a cover-up at commodities firm Refco. In 2004, Lee acquired a controlling stake in Refco, once one of the world's dominant commodities and derivatives-trading firms. Yet in 2005, Refco said an internal review had uncovered an improper loan scheme, a finding that led to the discovery of multiple sham loan transactions to hide customer losses. The disclosure led to Refco's seeking bankruptcy protection. Lee's lawsuits and a bankruptcy examiner’s report published this month allege that Mayer Brown handled 17 loan transactions that helped Refco shift bad loans off its books. Lee claims that the law firm knew about the bogus transactions and did not inform Lee when the buyout firm was conducting due diligence before its 2004 purchase.

Financial News U.S.

30 Jul

New Law Soc head promises support in time of change

FIONA Woolf last week (19 July) stepped down as the president of the Law Society to make way for immigration lawyer Andrew Holroyd. Holroyd, a partner at Liverpool-based Jackson & Canter, took over the reins of the solicitors’ representative body at the AGM. Holroyd vowed to lead the entire profession through “what is bound to be a period of immense change and challenge”, with legal aid and the Clementi reforms very much in flux. The new president said the society’s main role is to support solicitors and he will endeavour to do this by travelling the country to find out the profession’s issues first-hand.

The Lawyer

27 Jul



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