Over and out

Posted On Sep 30 2020 by

first_imgGenghis Khan, the Gobi Desert and yaks are all most of us know about Mongolia. But an intrepid lawyer from Kent and Sussex firm ASB Law, legal executive Laura Over, will soon be an expert on the place. Over and her friend Paul Evans are driving the 10,000 miles from England to Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. They are taking part in the Mongol Rally charity race and, to make it that bit more gruelling, the rules state that the vehicle’s engine must be 1200cc or smaller. Over says: ‘We’re aiming to average nine or 10 hours’ driving a day, so the race should take us four to five weeks.’ Money raised will go to three charities: the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, Cancer Research and the Neurofibromatosis Association. But there’s just one tiny hitch: they haven’t actually tracked down a car yet. If anyone out there would like to donate a vehicle, which will be auctioned for charity when they reach their destination (though it may have a few more miles on the clock by then), visit www.thetwomongoleers.co.uk.last_img read more


Immigration lawyers unhappy over new accreditation process

Posted On Sep 30 2020 by

first_imgImmigration solicitors are concerned that they have been ‘singled out’ from other legal aid lawyers through the introduction of a new reaccreditation process. The compulsory immigration and asylum accreditation scheme, administered by the Law Society, was launched in 2004, with reaccreditation required after three years. No reaccreditation scheme was put in place until January this year, when solicitors received letters informing them that they would need to pass an exam by the end of July if they wanted to conduct work under the new civil contract that runs from October 2010. The deadline for passing the reaccreditation process has since been extended to 31 March 2011. However, Mark Phillips, chairman of the Law Society’s immigration committee, said: ‘Immigration lawyers feel battered and bullied… They feel they are being singled out and treated differently from other practitioners in the way they are accredited.’ The Law Society said the two-hour exam was ‘the most sensible solution’.last_img read more


Disgruntled clients: the Ombudsman gives us a glimpse

Posted On Sep 30 2020 by

first_img Follow Rachel on Twitter This week the Legal Ombudsman took a small baby step on a very long and distant path that may – or may not – ultimately end in the publication of complaints upheld by LeO against named law firms. That may or may not happen, and certainly not before February 2012. But what LeO did begin publishing last week was some anonymised accounts designed to give an insight into the types of complaints it receives, and the way it deals with them. And it makes for quite a good read. Each one is a personal story of something that went wrong in the client’s life (because, as we all know, it’s almost always the bad things in life that you need a lawyer for). So there are tales of people being locked out by their landlords; having plastic surgery that goes wrong; buying a holiday home and then finding in the deeds that it can’t be let out. While some solicitors in the examples have clearly behaved poorly – like the chap who does not reply to correspondence, and when his exasperated client turns up on his doorstep, assures him that everything is fine and neglects to mention that actually he ceased trading two months ago – in many of the examples it is clear that the complainants are actually just blaming their lawyer because they lost their case, or are blowing small issues out of proportion. The tone of the stories is very accessible, written in colloquial language, and it is clearly aimed at members of the public rather than solicitors. So I found it interesting that many of the examples were actually showing that LeO had found in favour of the law firm rather than the complainant. The client rejected the Ombudsman’s findings in seven of the 12 case studies published. Far from drumming up business for itself, actually one gets the impression that LeO may be trying to stem the tide of unwarranted complaints that it is probably facing. After all, the Ombudsman received 500 calls on its first day when it opened last October, and figures to date suggest it will probably have dealt with 80,000 calls by the end of its first year. Plus, while the vast majority of clients are happy with the service they receive from their lawyer, when things go wrong they do seem to get far angrier with solicitors than they do with other people or businesses who provide a service. At the extreme end of the spectrum, Samson recently revealed that he had received 10 death threats from dissatisfied complainants. Perhaps the Ombudsman’s annual report due out on 14th July will shed some further light on the cost of all these complaints to the profession.last_img read more


E-petitions are dangerous and pointless – so why bother with them?

Posted On Sep 30 2020 by

first_img Follow John on Twitter Winston Churchill once claimed that the best argument against democracy was a five-minute conversation with the average voter. One look at the terrifying e-petition website, and the old boy would doubtless have choked on his brandy in horror. What a Pandora’s box of steaming excrement this ill-conceived idea has created. For those with less time on their hands – those with jobs for example – let me explain. The great unwashed are invited to submit ideas for future debates in parliament – if 100,000 others give their backing it’s officially on the agenda. Think of it like the Blue Peter Totaliser for nutters. Predictably, the early entries may as well have been copied and pasted straight from the Daily Express website. Judging by the first couple of days since it was published, if this nation lurches any further to the right we’ll be speaking French by the weekend. The British people apparently want the return of capital punishment, the ripping up of the convention on human rights and numerous other acts of lunacy. One demand is that that jail food be limited to bread and water, a move which will surely delight messrs Warburton and Hovis but horrify prisoners with a gluten intolerance. Of course, this entire exercise is a monumental waste of time and resources. The death penalty will never be reintroduced in my lifetime, no matter how many times some tattooed keyboard warrior may call for it. Even if 100,000 people do call for a parliamentary debate (and that seems a ludicrously easy number to round up), it represents just a fraction of the general population. We cannot allow the nature of our society to be dictated to by those who shout the loudest. Law-making is for the courts and the politicians. It requires a dispassionate approach free of the pressures of satisfying the general public’s every whim. If the citizens of the UK are not happy with the approach, they have their chance to register that discontent at the ballot box every five years – although it is telling how many people still ignore that opportunity. The rest of the time we must trust the elected guardians of the nation to do what is right – not what screaming newspaper headlines demand. It seems anomalous to denounce democracy at a time when so many people around the world are dying for their right to exercise it. Those who have voted in e-petitions will argue it’s about time their opinions were given a platform and properly debated. Perhaps, but legal reforms are not to be treated like a glorified X Factor poll, with the winner decided by the most emotive back story. Sometimes we don’t know what’s best for us. I shudder to think at what Churchill would say in response to e-petitions, but I’m fairly sure it would involve that famous two-fingered salute.last_img read more


Complaints publishing feels like a fudge

Posted On Sep 30 2020 by

first_imgAt what point does a compromise become a fudge? Without doubt, the Legal Ombudsman had a difficult task on its hands deciding how to publish details of complaints. The status quo of printing anonymised case studies was generally accepted to be counter-productive for all concerned. For consumer groups, the case studies had all the authority of a fairytale; for law firms, they simply tarred everyone with the same brush. But there’s every chance that both sides of the debate will be equally unhappy with the compromise. As we report today, the plan is for simple tables, in alphabetical order, listing the firm’s name, the number of complaints investigated, the number of times action had to be taken and what area of law the complaint covered. There will have to be some idea of the scale of the firm, perhaps through partner numbers or caseloads, but that is yet to be decided. If a complaint was made about you last week, you’re in luck: figures will be collated only from 1 April and published some time in July. It is possible that LeO has found the one solution guaranteed to upset everyone involved. The legal profession, it’s fair to say, has never been too enamoured with the idea of naming and shaming. The LeO may balk at those words, but if lawyers are being named, and by implication shamed, how else can you describe it? The danger with simplifying these complaints is you lose all sense of context. As already mentioned, there will have to be some information about the firm – a giant such as Irwin Mitchell, for example, is likely to have more complaints than a two-partner firm, simply because of the volume of work it takes on. LeO will have to ensure that a cursory look at the tables cannot be misleading – if consumers, journalists and indemnity insurers get the wrong idea, that is toxic for the firm in question. On a similar note, the table will simply list in how many of the complaints the firm had to ‘make amends’. This basically means that action was taken and/or a complaint upheld – and explaining this in lay terms is another challenge. There is, of course, the fear that consumers will rely more heavily on complaint numbers rather than their outcome – the ‘no smoke without fire’ scenario. If the legal profession will be collectively dreading the July publication date, it will hardly be cause for celebration for consumer groups. The tables will offer no clues as to the scale or nature of each complaint. It’s like watching only the scores section of the Eurovision Song Contest – simply a lot of numbers with no feel for how or why they were created. If anything, consumers looking at these tables will be left with more questions than answers. Is that real transparency? A resulting lack of information creates a vacuum filled with innuendo and rumour. One upheld complaint against a local firm, and speculation will be rife as to the cause. LeO had a near-impossible task in appeasing the profession, satisfying consumers and, lest we forget, protecting the anonymity of complainants. Publication of firm names had three aims: consumer confidence, improved standards and lawyers not feeling like the victims of a witch-hunt. Does this compromise tick any of those boxes?last_img read more


Desperate measures

Posted On Sep 29 2020 by

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


Why we’re too white

Posted On Sep 29 2020 by

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 now for unlimited access 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


Under guarantee

Posted On Sep 29 2020 by

first_imgGet 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 community To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN 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-newsletterslast_img read more


Mediation is a busted flush

Posted On Sep 29 2020 by

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 Subscribe now for unlimited access 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


Bingham back at school

Posted On Sep 29 2020 by

first_imgSubscribe 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 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 Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Subscribe now for unlimited access To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGINlast_img read more