We’ve been shortlisted for the Wales Legal Awards 2019 🙂
Law Society raises serious concerns in relation to SRA Handbook changes
The Law Society has published a scathing letter that it has recently sent to the LSB raising concerns regarding its approval of the proposed changes to the SRA Handbook.
The letter expresses its concerns in relation the manner in which the amendments were approved. Judicial review proceedings will not be issued, but the Law Society does question whether the LSB is “discharging its responsibility in a sufficiently rigorous manner” when exercising its decision making powers. It urged the LSB to, “consider and apply evidence and research when considering regulation“.
Christina Blacklaws, Law Society President, concludes her letter hoping that the LSB will apply impact assessment in future decision making.
Why it matters
The letter itself is unlikely to have any impact upon the changes that are due to be implemented after the summer. In effect the expression of concern come a bit late, the horse has already bolted. What it does aim to do is send a reminder to the LSB that it remains accountable as a regulator. And equally a shot across the bow to the SRA that the impact of these fundamental changes to the practise of law will be monitored by the professional body.
Are our regulators and professional representatives losing the confidence of the legal profession?
Supreme Court negligence ruling welcomed by profession
The Supreme Court has overturned the Court of Appeal decision in Perry v Raley Solicitors which found that the firm should be liable to compensate its former client, a retired miner, for failing to advise that he could have made a claim for a services award, as well as the general damages award that he had secured.
The court found that the claimant was unable to prove that he would have made a claim to a services award within time had he been properly advised by Raleys solicitors and that the original trial judge was able to determine that he was lying about the impact of his injuries.
Why it matters
Loss of chance claims, as they are known, have increasingly been seen as a favouring claimants over law firms. Claimants are able to succeed in negligent claims against their solicitors, even if they would have lost their original claim, if they can prove that the claim had a real and not just fanciful change of succeeding. This ruling is seen to emphasise that the burden of proof is upon the claimant and that any retrospective scrutiny will be of the claim in its entirety.
Saudi Arabia added to EU black list of high risk jurisdictions
The European Commission has added Saudi Arabia to its list of countries that it considers to be a threat due to insufficient AML and terrorist financing controls. It has also been reported that other countries added to the list are Libya, Botswana, Ghana, Samoa, the Bahamas and the four United States territories of American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam.
Why it matters
Corporate and commercial firms will encounter clients and matters originating from these high risk jurisdictions, or deals where the money flows through high risk territories. The updated EU blacklist should be brought to the attention of all fee earners so that this is taken into consideration when undertaking their AML due diligence and risk assessments.
LawTech not reaching full potential, says Law Society
The Law Society has published its Lawtech Adoption Report which looks into the expanding lawtech sector and developments within the same.
The report itself highlights that “Lawtech in the UK is largely focused on efficiencies and automation rather than on delivering ‘new types of law’”. The key findings highlight the fact that firms are facing increased pressure to use or improve the use of lawtech due to increased workloads, the need for greater efficiency and younger tech savvy lawyers coming on board. However, there are still barriers to firms adopting lawtech which appear to stem from out-of-touch partnership models, lack of confidence and awareness and compliance risks. And no doubt the scale of investment required.
Why it matters
We are always being told that law firms need to move with the times. That solicitors are generally technophobes and dinosaurs, doomed to the professional graveyard unless they become robot-lawyers. That’s unfair. Sometimes the futurologists under-estimate the attraction of meeting a real lawyer, in a nice office, using pen and paper. Technology has not (yet) replaced professionalism, empathy or legal skills.
There are so many elements of legal practice which we could and should improve upon before launching into shiny new tech systems. Returning calls. Cross selling. Doing things on time. Billing in a way that delights clients.
The problem is of course that shiny new things are fun, and they give us something to show off about. They can be a distraction from doing the hard things well.
Now, there is nothing wrong with making the strategic choice to be at the bleeding edge of legal tech. So long as it is being done for the right reasons. As the Law Society President says: “Adopting and pioneering new technologies will give firms a strong competitive advantage in a rapidly evolving legal services market.”
But we shouldn’t fall into the trap of simply jumping on the bandwagon, for fear of being left behind.
Practice Notes and Guidance
Mortgage fraud – extremely helpful practice note from the Law Society
The following no-deal Brexit guidance are definitely worth considering:
No-deal Brexit guidance – intellectual property
No-deal Brexit guidance – VAT
No deal Brexit practical guidance for family law
No-deal Brexit commercial cooperation guidance
- Sabrina Maini has been fined £25,000 after elderly client paid her £75,000 to pay her debts.
- Alexander Zivancevic has been fined £15,000 for having “forgotten” that a client paid £900 into his personal bank account
- Mark Greenburgh has received a written rebuke from the SRA for having made comments ‘in relation to disability being linked to inbreeding’ at at meeting