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The Times
Tuesday October 10 2017
The Brief
Frances Gibb Jonathan Ames
By Frances Gibb and Jonathan Ames
This morning’s must-read of all things legal, including news, comment and gossip. For more in-depth coverage, read ...
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Today
RECORD NUMBERS CONVICTED OF SEX CRIMES
Thousands of employees sue Morrisons for data leak
Dragging immigration appeals double Home Office workload
Pioneering claimants take on hip implant manufacturers
Medical negligence bill claims are scaremongering, QC says
‘Super-court’ to boost City’s appeal
Blue Bag diary: Lawyers spice up bid to save iconic London curry house
More Blue Bag: A clubbable lapse of memory
premium Analysis: Profession must be sure to mind its mental health
premium Special focus: Sanctions regime will make informants of everyone
premium Analysis: How to stop your law firm falling foul of new tax rules
Tweet us @timeslaw with your views.
 
Story of the Day
Record numbers convicted of sex crimes
Record numbers of defendants are being convicted of rape and sexual crimes, with more than a third of all cases involving abuse of children.

Child sexual abuse prosecutions rose by 82 per cent over the past decade and now make up a third of 13,700 all convictions in 2016-17 for sexual offences in England and Wales – a rise of more than 15 per cent in the past year, the Crown Prosecution Service said yesterday.

Rape convictions and prosecutions are also dramatically higher, with prosecutions up by nearly 12 per cent in the past year and convictions by 11.2 per cent, to 5,190 and 2,991 respectively, the figures show.

Yet the huge rises in successful prosecutions come alongside a fall in prosecutions and convictions for domestic abuse, which is attributed to a two-year drop in police referrals of cases. A Whitehall initiative is underway to tackle the fall in referrals from police from 117,882 in 2015-16 to 110,833 last year, a drop of 6 per cent or 7,049 referrals. The number of suspects charged fell by 3.3 per cent.

Similarly, there was a drop in prosecutions over the year of 7.3 per cent, although there have been 309 charges made under the new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour that then reached a first hearing.

The fall in referrals was identified three years ago by the Labour party, which disclosed significant disparities between forces, partly because of reduced resources and different priorities. Yesterday’s figures were released in the 10th annual report of the CPS, which refers in its title to “violence against women and girls”, although the figures also includes men and boys.

It shows a massive rise in convictions for rape of 48 per cent and of 79 per cent over the decade, reflecting in part a greater awareness, fuelled by the CPS’s own campaign on sex crime and also the surge in historical sexual abuse cases after the death of Jimmy Savile, the TV personality, in 2011.

There has also been a rise in sex crimes using the internet, with the number of so-called revenge porn cases more than doubling in the past year from 206 to 465. There have also been more prosecutions for new offences, such as rape pornography – rising from three to 24 – and for possession of a paedophile manual, up from one to 14.

Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions (pictured), said: “Over the past ten years the CPS has made significant strides in prosecuting [these] offences. More offenders are being successfully prosecuted for sexual crimes than ever before, including those committed against children.”
Special focus: Sanctions
Premium
Sanctions regime will make informants of everyone
Targeted measures against foreign industries will make international dispute litigation in London a minefield
Read in full
News round-up
Thousands of employees sue Morrisons for data leak
Thousands of supermarket staff should be compensated for the “upset and distress” caused by their personal details being posted on the internet, the High Court has been told.

Lawyers argue that the case, thought to be the first data leak class action in the UK, has potential implications for every person and business in the country. It centres on a security breach in 2014 when Andrew Skelton, a senior internal auditor at the Bradford headquarters of Morrisons, leaked the payroll data of nearly 100,000 employees, including their names, addresses, bank account details and salaries, putting it online and sending it to newspapers.

In July 2015 Skelton was found guilty at Bradford crown court of fraud, securing unauthorised access to computer material and disclosing personal data and jailed for eight years. The trial was told that his motive appeared to have been a grudge over a previous incident in which he was accused of dealing in synthetic drugs at work.

Yesterday Jonathan Barnes, counsel for 5,518 former and current Morrisons employees, told Mr Justice Langstaff in the High Court in London that the company had already been awarded £170,000 compensation against Skelton. He added that the trial judge said that Skelton wanted to do Morrisons “some real damage”. “The judge was sure that the employees were victims too, and it is those victims who have received no compensation for their distress or loss of control of the situation,” he said.

Barnes said that it was a “simple complaint” by the employees, who were required to provide the information when they joined Morrisons. “We say that, having entrusted the information to Morrisons, we should now be compensated for the upset and distress caused by what we say was a failure to keep safe that information.”

It is thought to be the largest claim in relation to a data breach in the UK and comes amid heightened concerns about cyber security.

David Webster, a partner at London law firm Russell-Cooke, said the stakes were high. He said the action was significant because it will assess “the exact extent to which employers can be legally responsible for the actions of their employees in any context is an area of law which is evolving to try and keep pace with the realities of modern working practices”.

Customers ditch companies that suffer breaches

Companies risk losing more than half of their customers if they suffer a significant personal data leak, research has revealed.

The research, conducted by international risk consultancy Baringa, covered banking, insurance, energy, television, telecommunications and internet businesses. It found that in the event of a data breach 30 per cent of people would switch provider immediately, while an additional 25 per cent would assess the media response before considering a switch.

The research coincided with the second reading in parliament of the Data Protection Bill. It claimed that “where multiple versions of customer information are saved to different systems, companies are more exposed to the risk of hacks or unauthorised use”.
Dragging immigration appeals double Home Office workload
Home offices officials “cannot cope” with “systematic failures” in immigration appeals as the backlog in cases has nearly doubled in the last year, lawyers claimed yesterday.

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request showed that in 2015 the Home Office received 15,142 appeals. Just 87 of those were successful but the majority drifted on into 2016.

In 2016 27,563 appeals were dealt with, including those that ran on from the previous year, which prompted calls for more funding to deal with a tightening bottleneck of cases. The figures show that 2,650 appeals were successful but fewer than half of those – 1,032 – were made by people outside the UK.

According to the law firm Simpson Millar, which requested the data and assessed the figures, decisions on appeals made in 2016 appear for the most part to have been delayed into this year. “Without question, these systemic failures are a sign that the Home Office cannot cope, and this is having a devastating effect on thousands of families,” said Emma Brooksbank, a specialist immigration law partner at the firm.

In 2015, responding to suggestions that the immigration appeal system was beset with delays, the justice minister, Shailesh Vara, told MPs that the Immigration Act 2014 would bring appeals down. Lawyers said Vara pledged that increased resources would be provided to the Ministry of Justice to enable more cases to be heard if the backlog persisted.

However, at the time human rights campaigners warned that the legislation would reduce claimant’s right to appeal.

Brooksbank said yesterday: “What experts feared and warned would happen has indeed come true; access to justice is reduced and we are left with a system, which is entirely unable to cope. The promise of extra funding to relieve the backlog has not been kept, and delays are increasing in the tribunals.

“The impact on children, some of whom are now living separated from their parents, is particularly significant and devastating.”
Pioneering claimants take on hip implant manufacturers
Hundreds of patients affected by allegedly faulty metal-on-metal hip implants are seeking to bring claims against the manufacturers.

A High Court hearing listed for next week is understood to be one of the largest product liability group actions in the UK. It is also one of the first group claims against a manufacturer that has been taken to court in this country over allegations relating to the failure of metal-on-metal hip implants.

Hundreds more metal-on-metal claims against several other manufacturers are stayed awaiting the outcome of this case against the manufacturer DePuy over its Pinnacle Ultamet hip implants. The claims are being brought by the London law firm Leigh Day on behalf of more than 300 individuals who claim to have been injured as a result of the early failure and consequent revision surgery of their metal-on-metal prosthetic hips.

Lawyers will argue that their clients have been affected by the release of metal particles from the implants, which can lead to severe soft tissue reactions and muscle necrosis. Those affected allege that their symptoms included pain, difficulty walking, swelling and numbness or loss of sensation in the leg. All those taking legal action have had early revision surgery to have the components replaced.

Bozena Michalowska Howells, the Leigh Day partner leading the claim, said the legal team had spent five years preparing the claim. She said her clients “believe that the Pinnacle device has failed to deliver on the level of safety they were entitled to expect. As a result of this failure, they have suffered pain and early revision surgery which we believe would have been avoided had they been implanted with a conventional hip product.”

A statement from DePuy said: “The device is backed by a strong record of clinical data showing reduced pain and restored mobility for patients suffering from chronic hip pain. We are committed to the long-term defence of the allegations in this litigation.”

The trial will start on October 16 and is expected to last until the end of January.
Medical negligence bill claims are scaremongering, QC says
Claims that the NHS has paid out billions in medical negligence claims and that the UK rivals the US for the compensation culture crown have been dismissed by a specialist lawyer as “scaremongering”.

Bill Braithwaite, QC, a personal injury lawyer, lambasted the report from a leading think tank last week as being “enormously ignorant and one-sided”.

The Centre for Policy Studies report claimed that the NHS had paid out £65 billion for medical claims, draining it of vital funds. It argued that the UK’s medico-legal bill was now £24 a person, compared with £9 a person in the US, despite that jurisdiction’s reputation as being more litigious. The report also said that annual payouts in the UK for the year ending March 2016 were £1.4 billion, a figure that it claimed was increasing by 10 per cent every year.

But Braithwaite – the head of Exchange Chambers, a barristers’ set in Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester – described the report as “misinformation”. According to the silk: “The £65 billion is a ridiculous projection over many future years, using scaremongering assumptions.”

The QC also criticised the report’s recommendation that loss of earnings claims should be limited and that private insurance should be used as a top-up. “That would attack the very basic principle of compensation, acknowledged by the government, that the object is to put right the wrong that has been done,” he said.

The lawyer said that ministers and the public alike should “remember that the foundation of every successful claim is negligence by doctors and medical staff – and that seems to be getting worse”.
‘Super-court’ to boost City’s appeal
The City of London Corporation has backed the proposed creation of a “super-court” in the Fleet Street area of the capital to replace all the existing court services in the City excluding the Old Bailey (Martin Waller writes).

The new court, within the boundaries of the Square Mile, would replace existing civil courts and the City of London magistrates’ court on Queen Victoria Street. Its main focus would be on fraud, economic crime and cybercrime and it would draw on the expertise of technology, financial services and professional services firms within the City.

The next step is for the City Corporation, the local authority that administers the Square Mile, to commission a study to analyse the cost implications and identify possible sources of funds. Plans for the court, which would have 18 courtrooms, are being developed in partnership with HM Courts and Tribunals Service. The feasibility study is expected to be completed early next year. The court would be close to the Royal Courts of Justice, the Rolls Building, the Old Bailey and the Inns of Court.
In Brief
  • Isis jihadist holed up in Raqqa is British barrister – The Times
  • Ofcom clears Carter-Ruck client Al-Jazeera of bias in The Lobby – The Lawyer
  • Solicitor judge Julie Exton dies at 59 – Law Gazette
  • If tech firms push the law to the limit, is that such a bad thing? – The Guardian
Analysis
Profession must be sure to mind its mental health
Premium
Twenty years ago most lawyers would not have dreamt of asking for help, Bronwen Still writes

LawCare’s 20th anniversary celebrations culminate today with a conference in London titled Making Mental Health Matter, which coincides with World Mental Health Day. As the mental health agenda has gained traction over that last two decades, we have seen significant change in the legal profession.
Read the full story >
Analysis
Premium
How to stop your law firm falling foul of new tax rules
Revenue and Customs means business with rules to prevent tax evasion. Legal practices should act now to make sure they’re compliant, says Marie Barber
Read in full
Twitter
Tweet of the day
Apparently today we've got a FHDRA with two HCAs before a DFJ. And I haven't got the foggiest.
@BrendatheUsher1
Blue Bag
Lawyers spice up campaign to save iconic London curry house
A High Court judge and senior barristers have joined a litany of the great and the good who want to save the India Club restaurant and hotel in London.

As curry houses go, the India Club’s menu is not extensive or elaborate. However, the venue played a unique role in Indian independence.

Seventy years after independence and partition, the freeholder for the club in The Strand has applied to Westminster Council to demolish the seven storey building and potentially redevelop it as a boutique luxury hotel.

But the India Club – and its affiliated Continental Strand Hotel – is not going quietly. Long a favourite of politicians, senior lawyers and journalists, the management has rallied a list of establishment celebrities in an attempt to block the wrecking ball. They have until October 20 to compile evidence to sway development and planning officials away from the modernisation plan.

Key to their defence is a report compiled by William Gould, a professor of Indian history at Leeds University. Professor Gould points out that the club and restaurant, which is near the north side of Waterloo Bridge, was the meeting place of the India League in the two-year run up to independence in 1947.
Organising the meetings at the club was VK Krishna Menon, whom the report describes as “one of the most powerful men in India, and an intimate friend to Jawaharlal Nehru”.

Today’s supporters of the club argue that it played a crucial role as a venue for debate and strategy sessions for the league, which was “the most important organisation campaigning for India’s independence in the UK”.

The club’s fans also claim that it continued to play an important role after 1947 as a meeting place for those “campaigning against colonial violence and repression globally, in states such as Malay, South Africa, Kenya and Indonesia”.

Rallying to save the India Club is a catalogue of the great and good, including the Labour peer and renowned economist, Lord Desai, Anish Kapoor, the Turner Prize-winning sculptor, and the novelist Will Self.

Also going into bat are lawyers as the club is on the fringes of the heart of legal London and the Inns of Court. Mr Justice Jay, who as Robert Jay, QC, was counsel to the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics, told The Times that the club’s “closure would be a sad loss. The India club harks back to an earlier age and is part of the historical fabric of the area”.

Practising barristers are on board. “I have been enjoying the India Club and Restaurant for more than 40 years,” said Peter Irvin, a senior commercial barrister at Brick Court Chambers, which is just down the road in the Temple. “I even have a life membership card which cost me a pound many years back. It is one of the few time warp restaurant and bars still surviving in central London.”

Irvin claims that he has “never taken anyone in there who did not enjoy it. Being childish, I have always found it amusing to tell guests that they need to be very smartly dressed, only for them to climb up the Soho style lino staircase and enter what sometimes appears to be mostly a canteen for the Indian Embassy and King's College staff and students”.
A clubbable lapse of memory
When the new lord chief justice, Sir Ian Burnett, was sworn in last week, the Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, told the assembled legal throng: “Sir Ian was certainly not a typical conventional establishment figure. It appears that the only club of which our new LCJ is or has been a member is the Pizza Express Club. He tells me that when he included it in his Who’s Who return, they replied that it was not the type of club they had in mind.”

However, while Sir Ian may well be the youngest lord chief for half a century, he is just as vulnerable to lapses of memory as the rest of us. Entries in Who’s Who show that he was a member of the Carlton Club, which is renowned for being “the original home of the Conservative Party”, before the days of Conservative Central Office.

Along with the Carlton listing, the 2003 edition of Who’s Who has Sir Ian, then a QC of five years, citing his interests as history, music, silver and wine. He had left the club by the time he became a High Court judge in 2008.
Closing Statement
Willing their own luck
The eight month sentence given last week at Kingston Crown Court in London to Robert Webb for forging his dead girlfriend’s will reminds James Morton of Harold Raphael, a property dealer.

Raphael apparently bequeathed his wife, the model Penny Brahms, a shilling and some nude photographs of her. Two days after the date of the will in March 1970, Raphael was killed in an air crash and it emerged that he had left his fortune to his good friend, the talented, if rogue, barrister Ronald Shulman.

Brahms was understandably aggrieved at Shulman’s luck, but it had been a case of making his own. The will was a forgery, the result of a conspiracy between Shulman, his one-time young mistress and Eric Henry-Alba-Teran, the Duc d’Antin.

There were arrests all round. The young woman received probation and D’Antin four years in total. But Shulman did not hang about even for the committal proceedings. He disappeared and was thought to have gone to Brazil.

James Morton is a former criminal law solicitor and now author
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