PLUS: Soldier wins record payout
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The Times
Thursday April 12 2018
The Brief
Frances Gibb Jonathan Ames
By Frances Gibb and Jonathan Ames
Good morning.

Big money divorce rows rumble on. Yesterday, appeal judges put their own spin on Norman Tebbit's renowned maxim about getting on bikes. Reinforcing the need for a clean break, they told a wife that if she has not received enough money from her multi-millionaire husband she can jolly well go out to work.

The ruling will be welcomed by campaigners who -- with The Times and the Marriage Foundation - want the maintenance system overhauled.

Elsewhere, the Serious Fraud office earlier this week appointed an interim director, who appears to be a nice enough chap, but he’s an accountant, which has not gone down too well with the legal profession. A permanent candidate is in the attorney-general’s sights, but the name has not been revealed.

Today, we report that the office is expanding the use of robots to sift evidence in heavy-weight fraud investigations. So here’s a clever thought – why not save a hefty employment package and appoint a robot to the role of SFO director …

For all the best ideas for the future of the legal profession, get stuck into this morning’s must-read of all things legal, including news, comment and gossip. For more in-depth coverage ...
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Today
JUDGES DEAL LATEST BLOW TO DIVORCE 'MEAL TICKET'
Soldier wins record payout over cold injuries
Fraud fighters use robots to sift evidence in all cases
More sex offenders to be offered chemical castration
Chambers could soon be out and proud about diversity figures
Anti-abortion protest ban ‘likely to face judicial review’
Blue Bag diary: Baker McKenzie doles out £2.6m to highest paid partner
The Churn: Move flags up expected spate of law firm restructurings
Analysis: Online court must not bypass human factor
Special focus: Pharma fights over designs for life
Analysis: Chile and Bolivia can both win in coastal dispute
Tweet us @timeslaw with your views.
 
Story of the Day
Appeal judges deal another blow to divorce ‘meal ticket’
A wife handed nearly £10 million when she split from her wealthy husband has had her maintenance stopped by senior judges in a fresh blow to the principle that divorcees should have a “meal ticket for life”. Kim Waggott, 49, will not suffer “undue hardship” and can get a job if she needs more money, judges in the Court of Appeal ruled.
Read the full story >
Special focus: Pharmaceuticals
Pharma fights over designs for life
As the industry undergoes radical change access and control of new technology will be fiercely guarded
  • Biological medicines will be harder to copy once patents expire
  • Ownership of revolutionary gene-editing technique hotly contested
  • No treatments yet, but there are three-eyed mosquitoes
The pharmaceuticals market is evolving rapidly – in recent years it has turned its attention away from traditional chemically synthesised drugs to new medicines with the potential to revolutionise human health: biologics.
Read the full story >
News round-up
Soldier wins record payout over cold injuries
A soldier who was ordered to “wind your neck in” and “crack on” has received one of the largest ever settlements for a cold weather injury as the Ministry of Defence paid out more than £800,000, it emerged yesterday. The 22-year-old, who cannot be named, was medically discharged in 2016 as a result of the injuries sustained during an exercise in England at the end of 2012.
Read the full story >
Fraud fighters use robots to sift evidence in all cases
Robots that can sift evidence 2,000 times faster than a human lawyer are to be used on all casework, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced yesterday. The SFO will begin managing all new cases with the technology from this month, with one case involving more than 50 million documents, more than the office’s recent investigation into Rolls-Royce.

See Blue Bag below

Read the full story >
More sex offenders to be offered chemical castration
Thousands of sex offenders may be offered “chemical castration” to suppress their urges in a move to prevent reoffending when they are released. Phillip Lee, the justice minister, has asked officials to consider implementing the programme because of concerns that rehabilitation courses run by psychologists are ineffective.
John Worboys (pictured), the taxi rapist, was on a course that was discontinued because of doubts over its effectiveness.
Read the full story >
Watchdog plans to loosen rules on diversity monitoring at Bar
Barristers are being asked to approve a loosening of rules that cover the monitoring of sexual orientation and religious beliefs in chambers, it was revealed yesterday. The profession’s watchdog has bowed to pressure and agreed to consult barristers about whether chambers can provide data on those sensitive areas without the written agreement of each member in a set.
Read the full story >
Anti-abortion protest ban ‘likely to face judicial review’
A London council’s move to ban anti-abortion protesters from gathering outside a Marie Stopes clinic is a dangerous abuse of the law, a Christian group argued yesterday. The group’s lawyer predicted that Ealing council’s decision would face a judicial review challenge as it “criminalised peaceful protest and lawful speech”.

See: More scrutiny needed over power to ban prayers and also Bully Buffer – The Times leader today
Read the full story >
In Brief
In today’s Times Law …
And elsewhere in The Times
Analysis
A successful online court cannot bypass human factor
If eBay can resolve 60 million disputes online every year the plan may work, with proper scrutiny, Laurence Lieberman writes

A recently launched pilot scheme will move the Courts and Tribunal Service closer to achieving its aim of an entirely computerised system for civil money claims by 2020. But is this small step little more than the modernisation of the existing paper-based court system or the leap required to make the “online court” envisioned by Lord Briggs a reality?
Read the full story >
Twitter
Tweet of the day
Never mind the state of the CJS. In my court centre today the most important item on the agenda was to remind a Magistrate that the private entrance door was for the use of a District Judge only. (The District Judge had complained).
@PhilipJMorris
Analysis
Chile and Bolivia can both win in coastal dispute
The century-old case will set precedent for claims that a country is obliged to negotiate, Monica Feria-Tinta and Simon Milnes write

A case has just reached its climax at The Hague and shortly the International Court of Justice will decide whether Chile must negotiate with landlocked Bolivia over conceding sovereign access to the sea.
Read the full story >
Blue Bag
Baker McKenzie doles out £2.6m to highest-paid partner
Baker McKenzie has a history of treating its London partners well. Earlier this year, the US franchised firm admitted having promoted one of its UK lawyers to a senior partnership position despite having just made a financial settlement with a junior female associate over an allegation of sexual assault involving the man.

In the flurry after that tale emerged, the firm said that the partner would leave the practice. We can’t name the chap for legal reasons, but his profile remains on the firm’s website.

And another in the partnership gang at BMcK has done very well indeed, the firm has just revealed in its latest financial accounts. The highest-paid UK partner required an enhanced wheelbarrow to take home more than double the amount of cash last year than the equivalent partner bagged the in 2015-16.

According to The Lawyer magazine, which has peered into the firm’s limited liability partnership filing, Baker McKenzie’s best-performing partner drew £2.6 million in 2016-17. The increase was considerably better than that of the firm’s overall profit, which rose by a more modest 14 per cent from the previous year.
It’s a robot and it’s behind you
Debate over the use of artificial intelligence in the legal profession generally revolves around esoteric technical subjects such as e-disclosure and predictive coding.

Senior lawyers have comforted themselves by mutually agreeing that while an increasing use of legal AI could significantly slash paralegal numbers, the roles of those at the top tier of the profession will be safe.

Hang on a minute. Recently published research claims to have found that nearly 15 per cent of the British public surveyed said they would prefer to receive legal advice from a robot.

Lawyers are renowned for their slightly patronising and less than genial bedside manner, so perhaps the finding is understandable. Yet in a world where lawyer-robots are much more than an entertaining fantasy, the public view could be worrying.

According to the researchers at Reboot Digital Marketing the public was marginally more comfortable with robot lawyers than robot doctors. However, lawyers are not yet in the parlous position of car salesmen, as 60 per cent of punters said they would rather have advice on buying a new car from a machine.

Nonetheless, the message is clear: lawyers watch your backs – it’s behind you and it has a voice that sounds a bit like the HAL 9000.
The Churn
Pinsent move anticipates spate of law firm restructurings
The City of London law firm Pinsent Masons has poached a specialist in legal practice restructuring amid predictions that more disasters for the profession loom.

Samantha Palmer is joining the firm’s partnership from rival practice Ashurst having previously held a senior post at the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the profession’s watchdog in England and Wales.

Pinsent said it had recruited her in anticipation “of further consolidation and increased regulatory focus in the legal sector”. The firm pointed out that it had acted in a range of recent law firm restructuring deals involving well known professional names, including KWM, Parabis, Cobbetts, Manches, Davenport Lyons and Jeffrey Green Russell.

Elsewhere, Corker Binning, one of London’s elite white collar crime firms, has promoted Claire Cross to its partnership table. Prior to joining the firm, Cross did stints at the prosecution office at Revenue and Customs, and the Financial Conduct Authority and the Competition and Markets Authority.

And farther afield, HFW – which not so long ago was known as Holman Fenwick Willan – has boosted two lawyers to its partnership at the City of London firm’s Dubai office. The lucky two are Charles Cockrell, an aerospace specialist, and the commercial litigator Sara Sheffield.
Quote mark
Quote of the day
“I did have a clue we’d lose when the IRA fired rockets at 10 Downing Street on the second day of the hearing.”
Mark Stephens, a partner at the City of London law firm Howard Kennedy, telling the Law Gazette about the low point of his career; it was losing a 1991 appeal to the law lords in an attempt to overturn the ban on broadcasting the voices of representatives from Sinn Fein and loyalist groups in Northern Ireland.
Read the full story >
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