Call for ‘hard line action’ on coal health compensation

first_imgThe government has come under renewed pressure to probe the alleged undersettlement of coal health compensation claims, after an MP wrote to business secretary Lord Mandelson calling on him to take ‘hard line action’ against any law firms that might have undersettled. Dai Davies, Independent MP for Blaenau Gwent and a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Coalfields Community Group, wrote to Lord Mandelson last month. He said in his letter: ‘I would urge the government to take all necessary action to reclaim the exorbitant money paid to the relevant solicitors and review the compensation cases which… were under-valued at the time of settlement.’ Davies told the Gazette this week: ‘Most people who have put a claim in have questioned the significant profits made out of the suffering of miners and miners’ families. Those individuals feel that some cases have been rushed through.’ He said that he is expecting a reply from Mandelson shortly. The issue of alleged under­settlement of former coal miners’ coal health compensation claims was explored in a Gazette special report earlier this year (see [2009] Gazette, 30 July, 6). At the beginning of October, Labour MP for Bassetlaw John Mann said that he is gathering hundreds of former coal miners to sue their legal adviser for allegedly undersettling claims.last_img read more

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Unregulated will writers failing clients, says Chancery Lane

first_imgUnregulated will writers are providing the public with unenforceable wills while charging for legal services they are not trained or regulated to provide, the Law Society claimed this week. Solicitors specialising in will writing told the Society they have been handed invalid wills drafted by unregulated will writers, who on some occasions also offered powers of attorney, probate, conveyancing and tax advice. In some instances, family members were being left out of wills against the wishes of the client. Solicitors also reported that will writers are hiding charges, and that will documents have disappeared after will-writing companies were wound up. Law Society president Robert Heslett said this was a ‘widespread trend.’ See also Law Society warning on unregulated will writerslast_img read more

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Data page for October 2009

first_imgThe data page is the financial rates and data complied for the Law Society Gazette by MoneyFacts Group, the UK’s largest supplier of savings and mortgage data. DownloadsDownload the data page for October 2009 belowdata page 20 October 2009 (163kb)last_img

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Is our fear of identity cards harming us?

first_img Jonathan Goldsmith is the secretary general of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe, which represents around a million European lawyers through its member bars and law societies Here is a topic to raise the blood pressure of every patriotic UK citizen. Whereas on the continent, benign democratic societies flourish with a population which carries ID cards, somehow it is thought that darkness will descend on the UK if ID cards are ever introduced.The likely next government (Conservative) thinks they are a very bad idea, and even the limited ID measures introduced under Labour will doubtless then be scrapped. There are two of us in the office in Brussels who come from the British Isles, and we both agree that ID cards – which we have to carry here in Belgium – make life a lot easier. Many continental bars issue ID cards to their lawyers. A growing number issue cards to their members with national bar details on one side and our CCBE details on the other. As the electronic age advances, the question arises as to whether such cards provide a solution for proving lawyers’ identity in cross-border transactions, through the electronic chip embedded in them. Some feel – particularly from the UK – that a card is not necessary, and a log-in and password will suffice. The discussion is becoming more urgent, because the European Commission is taking large-scale initiatives to resolve the question of cross-border e-identity. The general story starts with the STORK project (if you really want to know, the name comes from the following letters: Secure idenTity acrOss boRders linKed). Their marketing brochure even uses a lawyer as an example: ‘A Portuguese university student is transferring for one year to an Austrian University; a Swedish lawyer settles and launches his business in Spain. Is there any way for them to change their addresses and interact with the public services of their host countries without losing time and energy? … STORK will facilitate this situation by enabling businesses and citizens to securely use their national electronic identities and receive services from public administrations while living or travelling in any member state.’ As a recent STORK report points out, there is a Government Gateway in the UK which individual government departments and local authorities can choose to use, but ‘none of the centrally issued citizen documents enable eID for the citizen. Passports and driving licenses do not currently have means of being read electronically over the internet… The predominant token is a user ID and password.’ STORK is at pains to point out that it does not wish to mandate any particular system which all member states must adopt: ‘The plan is to align and link systems without having to replace existing ones … enabling citizens to prove their identity and use national electronic identity systems (passwords, ID cards, PIN codes and others), not just in their home country.’ The issue has just become more relevant because the European Commission is launching a new, large project specifically aimed at establishing connections between national e-identity systems in the justice sector. This will cover not just lawyers, but also judges, notaries, prosecutors and other actors. Again, the aim is not to insist that member states install particular structures, but to ensure that users of national structures can use them also across EU borders. Some member states – for instance, Portugal, Austria and Spain – have advanced systems for e-justice, and this new project aims to open them up to cross-border use. There is one more development to add to the mix. The Spanish Bar is leading an EU-funded initiative called PenalNet with four other EU bars (France, Hungary, Italy and Romania) to provide secure communications between criminal lawyers. This is seen as a prototype for a secure communication system between lawyers in Europe in general. They are using the CCBE card, and the standards that we have previously approved, to provide ‘the certainty that a lawyer is actually dealing with another authenticated colleague, and that the latter is the only [one] entitled to access the content received. Likewise, the system guarantees that the information exchanged cannot be modified or rejected.’ I have a question. It is notable that the UK, although sometimes participating in these initiatives, is not leading any of them. Is this because of our fear of ID cards, and of our broader fears of centralised systems and databases (since, for instance, they can be abused)? We all use credit cards – are ID cards really such a qualitative leap? And we have seen this week in the Dubai assassination case that existing UK passports can be used for nefarious purposes. The carousel of secure cross-border transactions through e-identity authentication is moving faster, and we have to jump on at some stage. What is holding us back? last_img read more

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Firms see boom in high-value litigation

first_imgA quarter of litigation disputes involve claims of more than £3m, and legal costs exceed £500,000 in 10% of cases, a survey of the heads of litigation at the UK’s top 200 law firms has revealed. The research, commissioned by Harbour Litigation Funding, showed that commercial contract disputes formed 44% of firms’ litigation workload, followed by professional negligence claims (12%), insolvency-related claims (9%) and fraud claims (7%). Some 70% of litigation matters related to disputes less than two years old, the research found. While a sizeable minority of respondents said that litigation time periods had increased over the last year, more than 80% expected to get to trial within two years of the start of the matter. More than 90% of firms said they ‘always’ or ‘sometimes’ discussed litigation funding options with their clients, and half of them had direct experience of using litigation funding. The heads of litigation at 62 of the UK’s top 200 law firms responded to the survey.last_img read more

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LSC puts its case in family judicial review

first_img Law Society puts legal aid tender case to the High Court Related articles On the second day of the Law Society’s judicial review of the Legal Services Commission’s tender for family legal aid work, counsel for the LSC today told the High Court that it should have been ‘obvious’ to solicitors that panel membership was going to be an important factor in the bid process. Interjecting to the submission made by Clive Lewis QC on behalf of the LSC, Lord Justice Moses, who is hearing the case with Mr Justice Beatson, warned Lewis that there were many ‘distinguished’ and ‘experienced’ family solicitors to whom it had not been obvious. Part of the Law Society’s challenge to the operation of the LSC’s family tender concerns the fact that the LSC did not give practitioners enough notice of the importance that would be attached to membership of certain specialist family panels. The Law Society said that the eight weeks between the publication of the selection criteria and the date by which bids had to be submitted made it impossible for caseworkers who were not already members of the panels to obtain certification. Chancery Lane said the LSC had not investigated or ascertained how many experienced and expert family solicitors were or were not members of the specialist panels before the selection criteria were published. In her submissions yesterday on behalf of the Law Society, Dinah Rose QC said many experienced caseworkers who were qualified to be members of the specialist panels did not have membership of them, because membership was expensive and time consuming, and prior to the conduct of the tender carried no significant benefits. The case is scheduled to finish today, with judgment expected early next week.last_img read more

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Talking turf

first_imgStay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Subscribe now for unlimited accesslast_img read more

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A pricing problem

first_imgTo continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Subscribe now for unlimited access Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our communitylast_img read more

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The joy of bricks

first_imgSubscribe now for unlimited access Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our communitylast_img read more

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Hansom

first_imgStay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Subscribe now for unlimited access Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our communitylast_img read more

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