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NEWS - Dec 2006

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

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England's green and pleasant land falls into the hands of rogue salesmen

People buying pasture plots hoping to reap big profits are often being conned, reports Tony Levene

Alan Reed was drinking a quiet pint in his south London local last July when he noticed an acquaintance across the bar. "I'd seen him in there a few times. He was the sort of person you'd nod to if you were on your own - maybe chat about football," says Mr Reed, a retired supermarket manager, 58. This time the fellow drinker - known to Mr Reed as Tim - didn't want to talk about England's World Cup flops. Instead, he told Mr Reed he was an independent financial adviser who could multiply his savings four to five times over the next four years. Mr Reed says: "The deal involved land. See also: Alerts section

Guardian

30 Dec

Debt write-off 'at £1.4bn record'

Creditors have written off a record amount of personal debt in the UK as more and more people get into financial trouble, a report by KPMG has said. According to accountants KPMG, £1.4bn of bad debts were written off this year after people signed up for Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs). Also this year, about 110,000 people became insolvent, topping the 100,000 mark for the first time, KPMG said.

BBC

29 Dec

'We're not sipping champagne like the Farepak bosses'

As Sir Clive Thompson, the former boss of Farepak, enjoyed Christmas with his wife in his eight-bedroom manor house in Sevenoaks, Kent, thousands of his former customers faced a rather less extravagant Christmas Day.

Times Online

26 Dec

Troops 'chuffed' by Queen's message

British troops in Iraq were "really chuffed" to receive the Queen's supportive Christmas message and said it was nice to be remembered. As head of the Armed Forces, the sovereign praised the courage of those stationed there and in Afghanistan. In her heartfelt pre-recorded Christmas Eve radio broadcast directed at those serving at home and abroad, she said: "Our country asks a lot of you and your families." The Queen paid tribute to the "enormous contribution" they made "at great personal risk". Army spokesman Captain Tane Dunlop said the troops on the ground were delighted to receive the message.

IC Kent

24 Dec

Former Navy chief attacks MoD

Britain's Armed Forces are in danger of being reduced to a "gendarmerie" incapable of defending the country's interests, the former head of the Royal Navy warned. Admiral Sir Alan West, who retired as First Sea Lord earlier this year, accused the Ministry of Defence of acting like "these tinpot countries" which failed to invest in major military equipment programmes. In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph he warned that the reshaping of the Armed Forces to wage anti-terror operations in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan could be jeopardising Britain's long term security.

IC Birmingham

See also: Telegraph

24 Dec

Defence cuts 'could cost lives'

Lives could be lost among Britain's armed forces if the government fails to adequately invest in defence, the former head of the Royal Navy has said. Admiral Sir Alan West said it was vital that the UK pressed ahead with plans to build two aircraft carriers. He said the Army might not in future be able to deal with dangerous situations around the world which demanded "proper, balanced forces".

BBC

24 Dec

Wealth is gushing up in Britain, not trickling down

Britain is now one of the most unequal countries in the world. A recent report on boardroom pay reveals that the average salary of chief executives of the top FTSE 100 companies is now a staggering £46,154 a week. That is 115 times the average wage in Britain today, 249 times the national minimum wage, and 519 times the basic state pension. The latest Government figures, entombed within their publication Households Below Average Incomes, shows that the rich have made quite a killing out of the last decade and that inequality rose sharply between 1997 and 2002. It has, however, fallen back somewhat since then, but it remains above the level of 1997.

Telegraph

24 Dec

Crime fight 'needs fresh ideas'

New ways of tackling crime must be considered, a minister has said, after a report warned crime rates could rise for the first time in 12 years. The leaked Downing Street strategy unit report says crime could rise if there is a slowdown in economic growth. It says prescribing heroin and alcohol rationing could help cut crime. Labour chairman Hazel Blears said new ideas were "worth exploring" but shadow home secretary David Davis said more prison places were what was needed.

BBC

24 Dec

Britons lose £3.5bn a year to mass-marketing scams

MASS-MARKETING scams are conning £3.5 billion from the British public every year, with nearly half of the country's population being targeted, a major new report has revealed. And the survey of more than 11,200 people by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) contradicted common perceptions that most victims of these crimes are vulnerable elderly people. Instead, it found that while older people were more likely to be the target of such cons, it is those aged between 35 and 44 who are most likely to fall for them.

The Scotsman

21 Dec

Solicitor struck off for lying to bosses

A newly-qualified solicitor who admitted lying to cover up a basic legal blunder just weeks after becoming a lawyer has been struck off. Michael Hopkins, 43, misled his bosses at Inghams, based in Winckley Square, Preston, to avoid exposing his error in exchanging contracts too early on a property transaction for a client.

Lancashire Evening Post

19 Dec

Solicitor spared prison after £36,000 Legal Aid tax fraud

A SOLICITOR who avoided paying £36,000 in tax over ten years was spared jail yesterday. Michael Rayner, 50, will have to remortgage his home to pay the tax, plus £20,000 prosecution costs ordered by the court. Rayner failed to pay tax on £75,000 earned from the Legal Aid scheme between 1991 and 2001.

Northern Echo

19 Dec

Man awarded compensation for failed PI claim

A data storage librarian, who lost an accident at work claim has been awarded £85,000 after taking legal action against his former solicitor for professional negligence. Brian Durban, who injured his shoulder while lifting heavy boxes of computer data tapes, initially brought a case against his employer. However, when his former solicitor failed to serve his writ within the limitation period allowed by the court, Durban decided to claim against his solicitor for professional negligence.

Legal & Medical

18 Dec

Hundreds to join new lawyers' union

HUNDREDS of lawyers have agreed to form a national union to fight their interests amid claims of a "crisis" in Scotland's legal profession. Solicitors from across the country are drawing up a constitution for the new representative body, which they hope to launch next month.

The Scotsman

18 Dec

The super rich: Britain's billionaires

The rich, as Ernest Hemingway said, are different from you and me: they have more money. In fact, they've got an awful lot more, according to the latest reports from the front line of City bonus season. Last week's £9bn orgy of excess - it seems to get bigger each year - saw more than 4,000 inhabitants of the Square Mile promised new year gifts of more than a million pounds, in addition to their regular salary.

Independent

17 Dec

Has the SFO got any weapons left?

If there is a silver lining in the decision to halt the investigation of alleged corruption at BAE Systems it is that, for once, the Serious Fraud Office is not taking all the blame. True, the SFO's director, Robert Wardle, is facing criticism for caving in to government pressure to abandon the inquiry so as to, in the Attorney-General's words, 'balance the need to maintain the rule of law against the wider public interest'. But as the head of a government department, albeit an independent one, Wardle had little choice but to do what the government asked.

Observer

17 Dec

Complaints against lawyers procedure amended

MINISTERS bowed to warnings from the legal profession yesterday and changed the proposed new complaints procedure for lawyers, introducing a right of appeal for the first time. The Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act was passed by Holyrood yesterday, creating an independent commission to deal with consumer complaints against lawyers. But lawyers had warned of legal action and a possible breach of European human rights law if ministers went ahead with their original plans, which would have refused a right of appeal to lawyers against decisions of the commission.

The Scotsman

15 Dec

Scrooge?Chancery Lane trims Christmas to build £5m war chest

The Law Society could develop a reputation for being a bit of a Scrooge this Christmas, as it seeks to save costs with a series of tough measures, including restricting its canteen service and sending home security guards early. The push is part of a bid by Chancery Lane to set up a £5m war chest for future investment across its representative arm and prove the body is value for money for the profession. In a bid to drum up the extra cash, late-night opening hours and the use of security guards at the bodyís Chancery Lane headquarters are expected to be curtailed.

Legal Week

14 Dec

CPRE wants 'land banking' regulation

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is launching a campaign to get the practice of "landbanking" regulated by the government. There are 29 companies offering plots of land for sale, many of them in or close to green belt land. The principle is simple. You buy up a piece of agricultural land, divide it into smaller plots, upwards of eighty square metres. You then sell those plots, often via the internet, to investors, who are told they will get a healthy return when the field is eventually bought up by a developer. See also: Alerts section

BBC

14 Dec

ASIC warns potential investors against new cold calling operation - Millennium Futures Ltd

Australian investors are again being urged to beware of scammers posing as overseas brokers and investment managers after ASIC received information about a cold calling investment scam. ASIC is making enquiries into Millennium Futures Ltd which claims to be a member of the non-existent New York Petroleum Option Exchange (NYPOE) and a full-service brokerage firm dealing in commodity, futures and options trading. ĎMillennium Futures Ltd is not registered with ASIC and is not authorised to provide financial services in Australiaí, ASICís Executive Director of Consumer Protection, Mr Greg Tanzer said. It appears that Millennium Futures Ltd may be using the identity of a legitimate firm in the United States, Millennium Futures Group Inc, a non-clearing member firm of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX).

ASIC

14 Dec

Wall Street to relax 'obsessive' anti-fraud rules

Wall Street's regulator has agreed to relax the anti-fraud measures introduced in the wake of the Enron and WorldCom scandals, saying that an "obsessive-compulsive mentality" that was damaging American business had crept into checking company accounts.

Independent

14 Dec

Online banking fraud 'up 8,000%'

The UK has seen an 8,000% increase in fake internet banking scams in the past two years, the government's financial watchdog has warned. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) told peers it was "very concerned" about the growth in "phishing". Phishing involves using fake websites to lure people into revealing their bank account numbers.

BBC

14 Dec

Justice will be only for rich, warns barrister MP

Changes to the legal system are leaving professionals disenchanted and will lead to a situation where justice is the preserve of the rich, Plaid Cymru's Westminster leader Elfyn Llwyd said last night. Mr Llywd, himself a barrister, said controversial reforms were leading to greater bureaucracy and to solicitors 'voting with their feet'. Plans to revise the Legal Aid system had already prompted some solicitors in the Cardiff area to take the unprecedented step of going on strike.

IC Wales

11 Dec

Law Society to pay £50m of SIF contributions back to legal profession

The Law Society has completed the first wave of cash refunds to law firms across England and Wales as part of its £50m redistribution of surplus funds in its legacy Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF). According to a fresh report published today (8 December), Chancery Lane paid back more than £25m to the profession in the 12-month period between October 2005 and September 2006. A further £25.1m is to be handed out before 30 September, 2007.

Legal Week Student

09 Dec

Factory owner's '£250m fraud'

A cheese factory owner was convicted of fraud in Kuwait a year before receiving a £1.6m Welsh Assembly Government grant, a BBC investigation has found. Mohamed Ali Soliman, owner of Dansco in Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire, was sentenced in Kuwait in his absence in 2002 for a fraud estimated at £250m.

BBC

07 Dec

Keep Tesco out of the law (Article by Andrew Phillips)

The legal services bill now before the Lords would end up denying justice to the poorest in our society.

It is a blockbuster, running to 322 pages and some 125,000 words, impenetrable even to the initiated. It is the legal services bill, which goes before the Lords today. Its inaccessibility means less effective scrutiny, less public involvement, and yet more self-defeating interference..."In today's law-constipated world nothing could be more important than a restoration of an approximation of equality before the law. But the belief that the shareholders of banks or supermarkets are going to put commercially unrewarding legal needs before maximisation of profits is unrealistic."

Guardian

06 Dec

Cashier jailed for £78,000 theft at law firm

A CASHIER who stole almost £80,000 from the law firm where she worked to "make her feel better" has been jailed for a year. Margaret McGlynn pocketed up to £200 at a time while dipping into the petty cash at Donaldson, Alexander, Russell and Haddow solicitors in Glasgow.

Evening Times

06 Dec

Law Society slashes 38 in second redundancy round

The Law Society is set to make a further 38 members of staff redundant as it continues to cut costs, The Lawyer can reveal. The society announced the redundancies this morning (Monday 4 December). The news follows an earlier redundancy programme in May this year, when 11 members of staff were made redundant and a further 12 vacant posts were frozen. A spokesperson for the Law Society said no detailed comment could be made, but that decisions were being taken this week.

The Lawyer

04 Dec

Class-action lawyer's move to London set to rattle cages

One of America's most feared class-action lawyers is setting up an office in London, in a move that could jangle nerves in many British boardrooms. Michael Hausfeld is the first of New York's high-profile 'mass compensation' litigators to cross the Atlantic, after winning billions of dollars from corporations in lawsuits ranging from 'Nazi gold' to the Exxon Valdez oil spill. His firm, Cohen Milstein Hausfeld & Toll, which represents claimants suing BA and other airlines in US courts over alleged price-fixing, believes there is a growing appetite in Europe for class actions, where claimants sue en masse.

Observer

03 Dec

Solicitor's history of complaints relevant

A solicitorís established history of complaints was a relevant consideration in deciding the question whether intervention in the practice by the Law Society was to be set aside. The Court of Appeal so held in a reserved judgment allowing an appeal by the Law Society from Mr Justice Park ([2006] 4 All ER 717) who ordered the withdrawal of notices of intervention served on a solicitor, Ms Anal Sheikh, practising as Ashley & Co, St Johnís Wood.

Times Online

01 Dec

Blow to deal on lost pensions

More than 75,000 Britons whose retirement plans were scuppered when their pension schemes were wound up have been hit by another government delay. This time it has missed a deadline to produce evidence for a Judicial Review into why it won't pay compensation to those who lost their pensions.

This is Money

01 Dec

Three guilty of identity fraud which netted millions

On the eve of "Black Thursday", the Russian banks' liquidity crisis of August 1995, Anton Dolgov, the head of the Moskovsky Gorodskoi Bank, disappeared leaving debts of around $100m. Yesterday, after hiding behind dozens of aliases, Dolgov stood in the dock of a London court as the head of an international identity theft gang that had defrauded thousands of account holders out of millions of pounds.

Guardian

01 Dec

Trial by jury

A fresh bid to end trial by jury in complex fraud cases cleared its first parliamentary hurdle despite strong opposition. Tories joined Liberal Democrats, and some Labour backbenchers, in attacking the fraud (trials without a jury) bill. It was given a second reading by 289 to 219 but is certain to face even fiercer opposition in the Lords. The solicitor general, Mike O'Brien, insisted that justice could be served by a High Court judge sitting alone and that major fraud trials placed intolerable burdens on juries.

Guardian

30 Nov

Consumers lay down the law to barristers

Consumers are to have a say in how complaints against barristers are handled under new arrangements announced today by the Bar Standards Board. The board took on the Bar Council's responsibility for regulating barristers at the beginning of this year, ahead of a Bill published last week forcing the legal professional bodies to separate the regulatory responsibilities from their role in representing their members. Its consumer panel, to be headed by the highly-experienced Dianne Hayter, is the first to be set up by one of the legal regulators.

Telegraph

30 Nov

 

 

 

 

 

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