PLUS: Online divorce booms
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The Times
Monday June 11 2018
The Brief
Frances Gibb Jonathan Ames
By Frances Gibb and Jonathan Ames
Good morning and welcome back from the weekend.

A lot has happened in the short time since we last met. Not least a long standing QC has lost his battle to clear his name after being sanctioned over remarks he made in court during a sex abuse case. And a man who was struck off the roll of solicitors for nicking more than £1 million of client cash has not surprisingly been jailed.

In the City, The Times reports this morning that the directors of Persimmon, a house-building company, could become the first to be targeted under a law that allows shareholders to take action against boards for bringing a business into disrepute, as part of a row over fat-cat pay.

Time to get on with your Monday morning update in this morning’s must-read of all things legal, including news,
Online divorce booming with 2,600 cases since launch
Gagging orders on traditional media pointless, says ex-top judge
Lord Mance pleas for UK to keep close ties with EU judges
Brexit ‘backstop’ will kill off trade deals, QC says
Blue Bag diary: Passing of the belle époque of law firm parties
The Churn: Lord Reed is Supreme Court number two – plus gongs
Analysis: Unclear light laws cast shadow on skyscrapers
Special focus: Policing the digital Wild West
Tweet us @timeslaw with your views.
Story of the Day
Two thirds of new judges educated at state schools
Two thirds of judges recruited last year went to state schools -- indicating a shift away from a judiciary traditionally dominated by private schools, figures show. In 2017-18, 66 per cent of applicants attended a state school, 28 per cent were educated in fee-paying schools and 6 per cent were educated abroad.
The figures were similar for those appointed: 62 per cent went to a state school, 34 per cent went to a fee-paying school and 4 per cent were educated abroad.
Read the full story >
The week ahead
State of the world's prisons revealed
Your essential round up of next week's legal events, including ...

An expert panel will present and discuss Penal Reform International’s annual report on Global Prison Trends, which covers the rise of drugs and violence in jails, female prison populations and life imprisonment.
Read the full story >
Unclear light laws cast shadow on skyscrapers
Fear of injunctions forces developers to be cautious and hinders economy, James Souter writes

Britain’s cities are in danger of missing out on tall buildings that drive the economy because of arcane laws governing rights of light. Legislation often dates from the 19th century and reform of these outdated laws is needed urgently if the country is to unlock commercial development in its major cities.
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News round-up
Online divorce booming with 2,600 cases since launch
Online divorce has proved popular, with 2,600 applications already made since the digital scheme was set up in May, the lord chief justice has said. In the latest initiative in digital justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon (pictured) said that online divorce was “the shape of things to come” and had “enormous benefits”.
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Gagging orders on traditional media pointless, says ex-top judge
Celebrities should not be allowed to gag newspapers if their names are widely linked to unflattering revelations on social media, a retiring Supreme Court judge said yesterday. Lord Mance said that he recognised the conflict between traditional and social media outlets and that it made no intellectual sense to impose injunctions on newspapers and broadcasters regarding names and information that were freely circulated on the internet.
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Lord Mance pleads for close ties with European judges
The UK must keep its links with the European judiciary after Brexit, one of the country’s most senior judges has said. Lord Mance (pictured), who is retiring as a justice of the Supreme Court, warned that the common law, “one of the world’s great legal systems”, was a minority interest in Europe and after Brexit it would become even more so.
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Brexit ‘backstop’ will kill off trade deals, QC say
Brexit-supporting lawyers rubbished Theresa May’s “backstop” plan as being legally worthless and likely to kill off trade deals. Leading Brexiteer, Martin Howe, QC (pictured), of of 8 New Square chambers in Lincoln’s Inn said of the plan announced at the end of last week: “This is not even a vessel capable of holding water, let alone watertight.”
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Struck off solicitor jailed for stealing £1m from clients
A stuck off solicitor was jailed on Friday after pleading guilty to stealing more than £1 million from clients and excusing the loss as an administrative error. Andrew Davies, 34, of Wigan, was given a seven and a half year prison sentence for 43 fraud-related offences at Bolton crown court.
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High Court backs sanction for QC’s offensive remarks to abuse victim
A barrister who was once the highest paid legal aid QC in the country has lost a bid to clear his name after being reprimanded for his remarks about a teenage sexual abuse victim. Howard Godfrey, QC (pictured), had said in court that the 16-year-old girl, who had been plied with alcohol and sexually assaulted, was “not unaccustomed” to drinking and was “not a young, innocent girl”. He made the comments during a hearing at the Court of Appeal in July 2015, when he argued that the offender’s sentence should be reduced.
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Oxford student who stabbed boyfriend fails to overturn suspended sentence
A promising Oxford University medical student who avoided prison for stabbing her boyfriend has lost an appeal against her suspended sentence. Lavinia Woodward (pictured) attacked her then partner after drinking at her university accommodation at Christ Church. The 25-year-old was given a 10-month prison term suspended for 18 months at Oxford crown court in September last year, having admitted unlawful wounding.
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In Brief
  • Medics who make “honest mistakes” should not fear criminal prosecution, says health secretary – The Times
  • MoJ to offer refunds after overcharging court fees – Law Gazette
  • Train firms skirt law on loss claims, says Which? – BBC News
  • Memes 'will be banned' under new EU copyright law, warn campaigners – Sky News
Special focus: Internet
Policing the digital Wild West
With even its inventor admitting that it is becoming a force for bad, Catherine Baksi reports on the battle to regulate the internet
  • Internet risks becoming "weaponised at scale", says Tim Berners-Lee
  • Publishing law is 'stuck in 20th century'
  • Target the data companies, not the social media giants, urges lawyer
Read the full story >
Tweet of the day
Er...trouble with this stat is that it says nothing about the senior judiciary (who set the precedents and call the shots) whose membership is 70% public school. It's like the Army boasting about how many NCOs went to state schools.
Times Law survey
The best is yet to come
The legal profession is analysed and dissected to the nth degree by politicians, journalists and the public. But who is the best arbiter of quality? Lawyers, of course.

That is why Times Law and The Brief are surveying the solicitors' profession to assess which law firms are top of the tree in their specialist fields.

Please complete our online survey: It's fast, easy ... and it will be fun -- just click here. And to coax you along, the names of all those completing the survey go into a hat and three will win an annual subscription to The Times and The Brief.

Results and analysis from the survey will be published later in the year.
Read the full story >
Blue Bag
Passing of the belle époque of law firm parties
Just as the tradition of the London season peaked for the aristocracy towards the end of the 19th century – there is a feeling abroad that the law firm summer party season routine has run its course.

It kicked off last week with a bash on the rooftop of the magic circle firm, Allen & Overy, the highlight of which, despite the venue affording impressive views of the capital’s east end, was the rare sighting of a dunnock hopping about briefly among the partners’ feet.

On the other side of town that evening, the American firm Quinn Emanuel was celebrating its tenth anniversary at London Victoria and Albert Museum. That was a bold move, considering the firm has most recently been in the spotlight for sacking “without compensation” a high profile partner amid allegations of “inappropriate behaviour”.

The next evening, Charles Russell Speechlys held what seemed to be akin to a jumble sale at Somerset House in London. The firm had invited its intellectual property clients to set up stalls and flog their wares to guests on a warm and slightly cramped evening.

All of which pales in comparison to the putative granddaddy of City law firm parties, the bash thrown by the transatlantic law firm Hogan Lovells, which is set of later this month.

Nearly 30 years ago, when pre-merger HogLovs was a simple English outfit called Lovell White Durrant (itself the product of several mergers), the firm launched arguably the first law firm summer bash for the media. In the early days, it was a fairly grim affair in a windowless basement room in the practice’s rather tired offices in Holborn.

But the event reached mythic status because the partners backed off and let the hacks gossip among each other until they fell over, having drunk themselves silly on the LWD’s shilling.

Today the firm is half American, is still in Holborn but in far swankier offices (its party is generally held on a roof terrace as well) and the booze still flows. However, nearly three decades on and there is a plethora of competition and hard as it may seem to believe, the press corps can only drink so much.

Perhaps the belle époque of law firm parties has been and gone.
Driving reforms
As a barometer of how times have changed in the legal profession, there is almost no better source than the Law Gazette, the weekly magazine and website that is published by the Law Society of England and Wales.

Judge Richard Pearce, who was appointed as a circuit judge on the northern circuit in 2015, has written to the publication with this anecdote from his time as a junior barrister in the mid-1980s.

“I was involved in an accident when driving to a solicitor’s office to see a client,” related the judge. “A senior member of chambers said that the inappropriate conduct in holding a conference at such a place would not only lead to me being reported to the Bar Council but would also invalidate my car insurance!”

Presumably, a chauffeur comes with his appointment to Chester Civil and Family Justice Centre, at least obviating any motoring responsibilities.
The Churn
Lord Reed to be sworn in as Supreme Court’s deputy president
A Scotland-qualified lawyer is to take the second most senior slot on the Supreme Court bench tomorrow as Lord Reed replaces Lord Mance after the latter retired last week
Lord Reed (pictured), officially took over as deputy president on Thursday but he will be sworn in during a short ceremony in full formal robes on Tuesday at the court’s building in Parliament Square in London.

He has been a Supreme Court Justice since 2012 and is the fourth deputy president since the court was inaugurated in October 2009.

Lady Hale, the court’s president, will conduct the ceremony, in which Lord Reed will take the judicial oath and oath of allegiance, sign the register and receive his warrant of appointment in front of the other Supreme Court justices, family and guests.

Lord Reed was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2012. He was from 2008 to 2012 a member of Scotland’s Inner House of the Court of Session, and from 1998 to 2008 a member of the Outer House of the Court of Session, where he was the Principal Commercial Judge.

Lord Reed read law at Edinburgh University before being awarded a doctorate in law Oxford University. He qualified as an advocate in Scotland and as a barrister in England. Lord Reed practised at the Scottish Bar in a wide range of civil cases, and also prosecuted serious crime.

As well as sitting on the Supreme Court and the judicial committee of the Privy Council, Lord Reed is a member of the panel of ad hoc judges of the European Court of Human Rights, and is a non-permanent judge of the court of final appeal in Hong Kong.

In keeping with tradition, after taking the oath, Lord Reed will shake hands with each of his fellow Justices in turn, before re-taking his seat. The ceremony will be streamed live on the Supreme Court website, then available on demand on the court’s YouTube channel from Wednesday.
Green given gong as he waves goodbye to SFO
David Green, QC (pictured), was given a parting gift as he stood down as director of the Serious Fraud Office in the form of a knighthood in the Queen’s birthday honours announced on Friday.

Green is heading off to a consultancy at Slaughter and May, the City of London law firm, and is being replaced by Lisa Osofsky, a dual UK-US citizen, who is a former lawyer at the FBI.

Among the other legal professionals to pick up gongs was David Anderson, QC, the former independent reviewer of terrorism, who was given a KBE. James Eadie, QC, of Blackstone Chambers, who was appointed first Treasury counsel – or Treasury Devil – in 2009, was also made a knight.

And Sir Christopher John Greenwood, a former judge on the International Court of Justice, was boosted up to the highest knighthood for services to international justice.

Others getting honours or awards were:
  • George Gray, a former head of the Office of the Legislative Counsel Northern Ireland, Order of the Bath.
  • James Murdoch, professor of public law at the University of Glasgow, OBE
  • Jennifer Temkin, professor of law, City Law School, University of London, OBE
  • Catherine Mary Duffy, a former principal solicitor in the legal services department at Police Scotland, OBE
  • Kim Ann Williamson, the inclusion and community engagement manager at the Crown Prosecution Service in Wales, OBE
Quote mark
Quote of the day
"Personally I would have no doubt gone on a year or two, but I am equally glad to move on to another phase in life and I think that 75 is a decent age."
Lord Mance, who retired as the deputy president of the Supreme Court last week, speaking to the Sunday Telegraph
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