PLUS: Sainsbury’s faces competition law battle
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The Times
Tuesday May 1 2018
The Brief
Frances Gibb Jonathan Ames
By Frances Gibb and Jonathan Ames
Good morning.

It won’t be long before David Attenborough, everyone’s favourite naturalist, broadcasts a television series on the endangered species known as the court advocate in England and Wales.

Two reports today suggest that owing to legal aid cuts, Attenborough could have to use his familiar tones to decry their rapidly dwindling numbers. “You are more likely to see a northern white rhino in a criminal trial than a barrister,” we suggest will be the closing line to suitably emotive music.

For those still practising on legal aid rates … and everyone else, it's time for this morning’s must-read of all things legal, including news, comment and gossip. For more in-depth coverage ...
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Today
UNREPRESENTED DEFENDANTS SLOWING DOWN CROWN COURTS
Woman faces man she accused of rape without lawyer
Sainsbury’s 'faces competition law battle' over Asda merger
Mother fights for widow’s allowance as top court sits in Belfast
Carer guided pen of dying banker as he left her £400,000 in will
Trainees in Scotland should be paid more than Londoners, regulator says
Blue Bag diary: Richard III acquitted
The Churn: Corker Binning founder joins rival
Analysis: Cohabiting siblings should get their house in order
Special focus: Flying the flag for Scottish law firms
Comment: Criminal justice is a finely balanced machine, argues Sir Brian Leveson
Tweet us @timeslaw with your views.
 
Story of the Day
Unrepresented defendants are slowing crown courts, report says
Defendants accused of serious crimes are increasingly appearing unrepresented in crown courts because they cannot afford lawyers or obtain legal aid, research reveals. The lack of lawyers is leading to slower hearings that are disrupted by the defendant’s questions or interventions, with the jury repeatedly having to be sent out.
Read the full story >
Special focus: Scotland
Flying the flag for Scottish law firms
The big English players may have swallowed up the major practices north of the border, but Linda Tsang finds that the native lawyers are thinking globally
  • Scottish government scheme bids to market legal services overseas
  • Growth in tech start-ups and oil companies likely to keep lawyers busy
  • Fears of a brain drain as Scottish talent is lured by bigger salaries in England
Read the full story >
News round-up
Woman faces man she accused of rape without lawyer
A woman and the former partner she accused of rape appeared in court without lawyers because neither were eligible for legal aid, a judge has said. District Judge Simon Read said that he had to take on the questioning so the woman did not have to address her former partner directly, but that she walked out when the questions became sexual in nature.
Read the full story >
Mother fights for widow’s allowance as top court sits in Belfast
An unmarried mother is being unfairly refused widowed parent’s allowance payments, her lawyer told the UK’s top court as it sat in Belfast for the first time. Siobhan McLaughlin, 46, a special needs classroom assistant from Armoy in Co Antrim, was with her partner, John Adams, a groundsman, for 23 years. The couple had four children.
Read the full story >
Sainsbury’s faces competition law battle over Asda merger, lawyers say
Sainsbury’s is unlikely to get an easy ride in its bid to become the biggest British supermarket chain, lawyers predicted yesterday. The company’s shares leapt by 15 per cent yesterday after it announced the terms of the proposed £12 billion merger with Asda in a deal with its owner, Walmart.
Read the full story >
Carer guided pen of dying banker as he left her £400,000 in will
A carer who guided the hand of a dying millionaire so he would sign over almost half his estate to her family has been stripped of the windfall and landed with legal costs of £85,000. Donna Henderson steered the pen of a retired London banker, Marcel Chu, as he lay ill and confused on his deathbed to make a will that bequeathed almost half his £1 million estate to her and her children.
Read the full story >
Trainees in Scotland should be paid more than Londoners, regulator says
New guideline salaries for trainee solicitors in Scotland outpace those for their counterparts in London, despite living expenses being significantly lower north of the border. Second-year trainees should be paid minimum annual salaries of £22,000 — a £500 rise — the Law Society of Scotland has announced. The Law Society of England and Wales recommends a minimum annual salary of £21,561 in London.
Read the full story >
In Brief
  • Publishers rebuke Google's view of EU privacy law – Reuters
  • EU plans to cut funding to nations where rule of law is at risk – Financial Times
  • Dane is first sentenced under Malaysia's fake news law – NPR
Analysis
Cohabiting siblings should get their house in order
Parliament is in no rush to reform inheritance tax for people living with blood relatives, writes Liz Smithers

Imagine two brothers — let’s call them David and John. They’ve chosen to live together in a long-term, financially interdependent partnership. When David dies, he leaves the house they live in to John. Yet because people in this situation are unable to claim exemption from inheritance tax on any gifts between them, John faces a crippling bill of thousands of pounds.
Read the full story >
Twitter
Tweet of the day
Listings appear to be law unto themselves.On way to private client in custody. Case listed for legal argument before trial, taken out of list without warning. But It's ok because I only got up at 5am for a 9am start. And thankfully Court only 150 miles away so disaster averted ☹
@iudicatepauperi
Comment
Criminal justice is a finely balanced machine
Any reforms to the complex web of police, prosecutors, the courts and prisons must be considered as a whole, writes Sir Brian Leveson

We may be required to reconsider the delivery of criminal justice from first principles, at each stage of that investigation asking ourselves the question: is this the best way to secure the truth and minimise the possibility of error?
Read the full story >
Blue Bag
Richard III acquitted and 500-year miscarriage of justice overturned
After years of being one history’s biggest villains, Richard III has been exonerated and a dreadful miscarriage of justice overturned thanks to a couple of modern-day silks.

John Kelsey-Fry, QC, of Cloth Fair Chambers in London, and Sallie Bennett-Jenkins, QC, of 2 Hare Court in the Temple, appeared before no less than Lady Justice Hallett, vice-president of the criminal division of the Court of Appeal, to defend the hunchback king on Sunday evening.

And a jury of punters at the Novello Theatre in London acquitted him of murder and much other nattiness.

Kelsey-Fry’s chambers-mate Ian Winter, QC, and Bennett-Jenkins’ colleague Jonathan Laidlaw, QC, were for the Crown and were forced to drown their sorrows in the crush bar after the show.

The Trial of Richard III was all part of the Shakespeare Schools Foundation series, which, while educating students about the law and the bard, gives senior barristers a chance to parade about on stage, which is what they secretly yearn to do most days of the week.
Back to employment law basics
Qualifying as a lawyer and moving the up ranks to the partnership of a City of London law firm is no guarantee against foolishness.

Over to Ince & Co, one of the Square Mile’s stalwart maritime specialist practices, where a partner has been exposed as having a tenuous grasp on employment law.
The website Legal Cheek reports that a partner was overheard blithely discussing the imminent sacking of a poorly performing trainee.

News flash to City law firm partners: you’re meant to break the news to the poor blighter who is getting the sack in the presence of a fully equipped team of human resource professionals before casually chatting about that person’s demise over a glass of fizz and a bowl of salted nuts at your firm’s monthly drinks do.

“It is highly regrettable that a partner was overheard discussing the matter, and that partner now accepts that it was inappropriate to have done so,” a flustered spokesman told the website.
The Churn
Corker Binning founder joins rival
High-end white collar crime is one of those discrete areas of practice where everyone knows each other -- so the ground shakes when a lawyer who made her name at one high profile firm ends up at another.

Nicola Finnerty (pictured) caused a tremor yesterday when it emerged that she had joined London firm Kingsley Napley, having founded rival firm Corker Binning in 2000. Indeed, Finnerty started her career at another big name in the field, Peters & Peters.

In 2014 Finnerty took a break from private practice when she was appointed by the justice secretary to sit on the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Pentonville. She was also appointed as a magistrate. Finnerty has a string of high-profile cases notched up, having defended Anne Darwin in the “missing canoeist” fraud case in 2014, and Achilleas Kallakis in the 2013 prosecution relating to Allied Irish Bank and HBOS.

Back on the blue collar crime front, another London law firm has promoted two lawyers to its partnership. Leo Martin and Gary Monks bring the total partnership number at the London firm Hodge Jones & Allen to 47.

And away from the mucky world of crime to the morally and ethically pure City of London (can that be right? Ed), Oliver Irwin has jumped from the Square Mile office of one US firm to another. The finance specialist has moved to Bracewell, which is based in Houston, leaving Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy.
Closing Statement
Chukka brief this way, Philip
It was after the exodus of most of his chambers over an internal dispute that Billy Rees-Davies, the irascible barrister and Conservative MP, set about acquiring new talent (James Morton writes).

One who joined him was the engaging and flamboyant Robert Flach, a man who hoped to become Austria’s attorney-general if the Archduke Otto was ever restored to the throne. At the time Flach was in a sedate and respectable chambers, into which he did not really fit.

He played polo on a Sunday in what he called the “Moonlight Sonata” at Cowdray Park and on one occasion he was in a chukka against the Duke of Edinburgh. When he recounted this to his clerk he received a dusty reply: “That’s all very well, Mr Flach, sir, but is any of them horses of his going to send you a brief?”
Billy’s was a really much more suitable home.

James Morton is a former criminal law solicitor and now author
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