PLUS: MP wants tougher pay gap rules
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The Times
Thursday September 13 2018
The Brief
Frances Gibb Jonathan Ames
By Frances Gibb and Jonathan Ames
Good morning.

Legal profession leaders have piled into the debate over whether grieving families should have legal aid at inquests — the Bar Council is in favour.

Max Hill, QC, the outgoing watchdog for terror laws, is keeping the pressure up on ministers who he claims are dragging their feet in naming his replacement as he becomes director of public prosecutions. The longer the delay, the greater the speculation that the government might ditch the role.

Elsewhere in Whitehall, the Home Office admits that it has no idea of how many children MI5 and the police have used as spies.

Gender pay gap reporting is back on the agenda with an MP calling for tougher rules, while in Europe, MEPs take steps towards beefing up digital copyright protection.

And on the chutzpah front, London law firm Leigh Day has a novel sales pitch: see our Blue Bag diary for details. All that and even more in this morning’s must-read of all things legal, including news, comment and gossip.
Today
BAR BACKS CALL FOR LEGAL AID FOR INQUESTS
Scrap expensive short-term prison sentences, says think tank
Judicial review granted over Whitehall definition of torture
Judge lets 14-year-old choose own lawyer in family case
The Churn: Solicitor QC jumps to arbitration niche firm
Comment: The legality of creating a grandson with a dead man’s sperm
In Times Law today
Tweet us @timeslaw with your views.
 
Story of the Day
Bar chiefs back legal aid for families at inquests
Legal aid should be available for families involved in inquests over state-related deaths, Bar leaders have said. In a paper to the Ministry of Justice, the Bar Council says that legal aid in such cases -- including the Grenfell Tower fire and the Hillsborough football stadium disaster -- should never be means-tested.
Read the full story >
Event
Is it time to reform our divorce laws?
The Times is holding a top-level debate discussing: Is it time to reform our divorce laws? It will take place at The Times' offices in London Bridge on the evening of Monday, September 24.

The panel chaired by Sir James Munby, former President of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales will debate the key areas of focus for the reforms and what the speakers' recommendations would be.

The panel will include Sir Paul Coleridge, Chairman of Marriage Foundation and former High Court family judge; Lord Mackay of Clashfern, former Conservative Lord Chancellor, Lucy Frazer, QC MP, justice minister; Rod Liddle, columnist, The Sunday Times, Liz Trinder, Professor of Socio-legal Studies, Exeter University.
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News round-up
Ministers are ignoring terror law reports, says Max Hill
The terror law watchdog has told the government “to get on with the urgent task” of appointing his successor while complaining that ministers had ignored his recent reports. Max Hill, QC, who spent 18 months as the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation before being appointed director of public prosecutions, said he was still waiting for responses to his annual report for 2016 and a report into last year’s Westminster Bridge attack.
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MP calls for tougher gender pay gap reporting rules
Gender pay gap reporting rules need tightening even though they are less than a year old, the chairwoman of a prominent committee of MPs has told Times Law. Rachel Reeves, a Labour MP who heads the Commons business, energy and industrial strategy committee, has called for the legislation to be toughened so that law firms cannot avoid including partners in their annual reports.
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Scrap expensive short-term prison sentences, urges think tank
Short prison sentences should be ditched in an effort to rebuild confidence in the public in the criminal justice system, a consultancy has said. Crest, a criminal justice consultancy, urged ministers to adopt a national presumption against the use of custodial sentences of less than six months for non-serious offences.
It also called for an overhaul of community sentences and the creation of “new national minimum standards and a new swift and certain programme for punishing prolific offenders in the community”.
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Home Office in the dark over number of child spies
Home Officials admit that they do not know how many children are being used as spies by investigatory authorities in the UK, amid suggestions that the practice could breach human rights. Ben Wallace, the security minister (pictured), told MPs that “there are no national statistics currently available on the number of juvenile CHIS [covert human intelligence sources] authorisations given”.
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MEPs take step to beefing up digital copyright protection
The European parliament has given the green light to controversial moves forcing online service providers to screen material that might infringe copyright law. The reforms are designed to ensure that creators are paid fairly for their work, for example when a piece of music is used in a popular YouTube clip. Internet publishers would have to install filters to weed out videos that infringed copyright rules and take more responsibility for paying content owners.
Reacting to the MEPs’ vote, Shireen Peermohamed, a partner at the law firm Harbottle & Lewis, predicted that “this is not necessarily the final chapter”. She pointed out that MEPs still had to vote on the final text of the legislation and that individual member states must then implement the directive.
“Brexit obviously throws an interesting factor into the mix. The directive may not be in force by the time the UK leaves the EU, in which case we will have to wait and see to what extent its provisions will make their way into UK law,” she added.
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Judicial review granted over Whitehall definition of torture
A government definition of torture used in immigration detainee cases faces a High Court challenge amid claims that it is “narrow and exclusionary” and could harm vulnerable people. Medical Justice, a charity that helps people in detention, was granted leave yesterday for a judicial review against the home secretary, Sajid Javid (pictured).
Read the full story >
Judge lets 14-year-old choose own lawyer in family case
A 14-year-old boy at the centre of family court litigation has persuaded a judge to let him choose his own solicitor. Council social workers say that boy should not be cared for by his parents, but he disagrees and says he does not want to live with foster carers.
Read the full story >
In Brief
Also in today’s Times Law
And elsewhere …
Conditions of ex-SFO chief's move to Slaughter and May revealed – Legal Week
SFO loses third investigation controller in 18 months – The Lawyer
Spurs captain Hugo Lloris in court to admit drink-driving – The Times
Comment
Was it legal to create a grandson with a dead man’s sperm?
While a wealthy couple followed the letter of the law in using their late son’s cells, the case raises troubling questions, writes Louisa Ghevaert

A wealthy British couple in their fifties have created a grandson using the sperm of their son, who was killed in a motorcycle accident aged 26. While posthumous conception is legal in the UK in some instances, the reported circumstances of this case are troubling.
Read the full story >
Twitter
Tweet of the day
Top Tip Tuesday: On your way into Uxbridge Magistrates? Don't stash your cocaine & cannabis in a bush on the way in whilst we're walking right behind you. Best not have it in an envelope with the date & time of your trial along with the court number written on the side too 🙄
@MPSHayesTC
Comment
Lawyers should be able to use spy material in court
Banning the use of intercepted phone calls as evidence risks letting criminals off the hook, writes David Corker

A ban on the evidential use of information obtained through eavesdropping on telephone calls is outdated and hinder the prosecution of serious crime.
Read the full story >
Blue Bag
Leigh Day’s up front sales pitch
Leigh Day has certainly got chutzpah. The London law firm and three of its lawyers were cleared of breaching professional rules in its handling of unfounded claims of torture and murder against the British army in Iraq. But that ruling is being appealed by the regulators with judgment expected shortly.

Regardless, the firm launched a specialist department yesterday to handle regulatory and disciplinary matters facing other professional practices. And the Leigh Day partners do not duck the touchy issue of their own travails — indeed, they incorporate recent history into a sales pitch.

“For more than four years, Leigh Day has responded to the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s investigation and prosecution … in connection with the al-Sweady inquiry,” it said in a statement for all those who in the legal profession who had been living under a stone.

Frances Swaine, the firm’s managing partner, is leading the new team and pointed out that it “has been at the forefront of the defence of the SRA’s investigation and prosecution and has gained a unique insight into regulatory and disciplinary law and proceedings”.

She continued: “Our aim is to advise professionals on maintaining a compliant practice, assist them with communicating with their regulator and support them through an investigation, prosecution or appeal.

“We know what it’s like to be under regulatory scrutiny and the difficulties it creates for practices and practitioners, both professionally and personally, and we want to help fellow professionals and their practices in what are challenging times.”
A future of ‘students at law’
Is this the shape of “legal advice” in the future world of unregulated advisers that so worries organisations such as the Law Society of England and Wales?

A few months ago a law student based in Scunthorpe launched an advice service aimed at those carved out by “the cuts to legal aid and the high price of private legal representation”.

David T Wade labels himself as “student at law” and offers a range of fixed fee deals for businesses and individuals. But as he has not qualified as a lawyer he has to dedicate a prominent chunk of his website to a detailed and entertaining disclaimer.

“Nothing that is stated or done by myself (David T Wade Student at Law Ltd) is to be taken as legal advice,” he cautions with disarming candour. “I provide to you our opinions for an information-based purpose. You are paying for my time and you are not paying me for any legal advice or legal assistance.

“Any and all drafts, opinions, ideas and answers in relation to any matters or questions that you are concerned about, will be discussed and provided in confidence and is provided purely for your consideration only, which is not to be solely relied upon. No warranty, whether express or implied, is given in relation to such materials. I am not a solicitor or barrister and thus I am not legally qualified.”

Regulators can’t touch the law student because he is not a member of a regulated profession, and the cops can’t lay a finger on him for breaching the Solicitors Act 1974 because he clearly is not holding himself out as a solicitor.

Clever, perhaps, but if Mr Wade ever does qualify, it’s a fair bet he won’t be popular with his representative body.
The Churn
Solicitor QC jumps from ‘magic circle’ to arbitration niche firm
A firm claiming to be the first international arbitration practice has poached from a “magic circle” player a one of the few solicitor-advocate QCs.

Reza Mohtashami, who was awarded silk at the end of last year, has jumped from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to Three Crowns, a firm that was launched in 2014 and is now in London, Paris and Washington DC.

During nearly two decades at the Anglo-German firm, Mr Mohtashami was posted to Paris, New York and Dubai in addition to spending the last four years at base in the Square Mile.

He regularly sits as an arbitrator and speaks French and Farsi.

Over to the Bar, where earlier this month one of the big hitting commercial sets raided a range of competitor chambers to boost its tenant numbers by six.
Joining 39 Essex Chambers are: Fiona Paterson from Serjeants’ Inn, Katherine Apps from Littleton Chambers, Vaughan Jacob from Lamb Chambers, Samantha Jones from 7BR, Michael Standing from Pump Court Chambers, and Katherine Barnes from Francis Taylor Building.
The set is now home to 136 barristers.
Quote mark
Quote of the day
“I have three children and my husband took a career break to be frontline at home. He suffered more discrimination and exclusion at the school gate than I have ever faced at work.”
Susan Bright, managing partner of the London office at Hogan Lovells, the transatlantic law firm, tells The Guardian that gender discrimination cuts both ways.
Read the full story >
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