first_img Name and address supplied I write in response to previous articles regarding best value tendering, in particular Graeme Hydari’s letter (see [2009] Gazette, 16 July, 9). If you decide to publish this letter, I would appreciate it if you could hold back my name and firm details, as this is a personal view and not one necessarily shared by my firm. As a procurement professional working for a national law firm, I wholeheartedly support the idea of BVT and believe that it drives economically sound solutions to supply issues. While many lawyers may view the law as a discrete service, in reality they are simply supplying a customer with a service and therefore BVT is an appropriate tool to use. However, crucial to the success of BVT is the need for good procurement practice. Botched privatisations have undoubtedly been the fault of poor implementation of BVT, rather than of the principle itself. A good buyer would understand the market, understand the issues facing the sellers in that market and build a detailed and complete specification of the service required (which takes into account unknown factors/variables). In addition, the buyer will also take a long-term view and not be blinded by short-term cash incentives. Best value means just that – best value – not necessarily cheapest! Understandably, however, there has been some scepticism as no one has been in a position to assess the strength of the Legal Services Commission’s procurement team. Perhaps the best thing the LSC can do to reassure firms in this market is to confirm that they have employed appropriately qualified and experienced procurement professionals, who will take into account all of the issues and take the time to do this properly. The sooner the legal profession as a whole embraces best value tendering instead of fighting against it, the easier it will be for all concerned.last_img read more

Posted in xawlvtwz

first_imgLarge law firms struggling with cash flow problems will find it easier to obtain an extension on their tax deadline following a change in the rules adopted by HM Revenue & Customs. The new policy will extend the revenue’s Business Payments Support Service (BPSS) to large partnerships, which had previously been overlooked. Before the rule change, each partner at a law firm seeking to delay its tax payment was obliged to negotiate individually with the Revenue. However, a firm may now nominate one individual – probably a finance director or tax adviser – to act on its behalf. The firm can arrange a joint time-to-pay agreement through the BPSS if it can demonstrate that the partners will be able to pay their tax liability in full in the next 12 months. The new rules will apply irrespective of the aggregate size of partners’ liabilities. However, an application on behalf of a large partnership with more than £1m of tax owed will be dealt with by senior customs officers. Such firms should expect to be asked to provide detailed financial forecasts. The development will be welcomed by many large practices experiencing difficulty in meeting tax bills. A recent survey of 120 law firms by accountants Smith & Williamson showed that 40% found managing cash flow to be an issue. Richard Mannion (pictured), national tax director at Smith & Williamson, said: ‘This development is a major breakthrough for any sizeable practice which might be feeling pressure on cash flow in the current climate. ‘Inevitably, problems and inconsistencies occurred when there were, say, 50, 100 or more partners, typically spread over different offices, each trying to draw up their own arrangement with the local tax inspector. The old system just didn’t work.’The BPSS was introduced in 2008 to help firms experiencing financial difficulties because of the economic climate, by providing a fast-track response for time-to-pay applications.last_img read more

Posted in xawlvtwz

first_imgWhen law firms first started to promote themselves online, their websites were little more than brochures: ‘This is who we are, this is where to find us and you can phone or email us for more information.’ Many firms have at least moved on to a more interactive experience for clients and potential clients, but for others the only advance has been to create an online form for an enquirer to complete by way of indicating their needs. I suggest that this does not really advance such firms’ offerings. Nonetheless, such an online presence does get you noticed by prospective clients searching for a local solicitor, or a solicitor with a particular expertise. So it should go without saying that, when an enquiry from such a search is received, the firm must respond quickly to capture the enquirer as a client. After all, yours may well not be the only firm to whom an enquiry has been submitted. Regular readers of my blog will be bracing themselves for a story about how law firms have failed to rise to this modest challenge, but on this occasion you can relax a little, because my anecdote is this time about accountancy firms. Don’t get too complacent though, because there may be a sting in this little tale. I recently had cause to seek the services of an accountant, so I did some research and narrowed down my choice to three firms. All of them had online forms and I duly submitted my queries to each of them. Only one produced an automated email response advising me that I would hear from them within one working day, and they duly contacted me within that time. The second took two days to respond, and even then only after I emailed them to ask whether I might hear from them. As for the third, well, I’m still waiting six days later. I suspect that, in the case of the firms that have been slow to respond, it was not a case of the person in receipt of the online form simply not being bothered. Or at least I hope so. It is more likely that they do not have a simple mechanism in place to ensure that all online expressions of interest are immediately routed to one or more persons tasked to respond immediately, with backup systems in place to deputise for absentees. This really isn’t rocket science and yet, in failing to have such systems in place, these firms have caused their reputations more damage than by not having a website in the first place. The sting in the tale? Do you know how your firm manages online enquiries? When I ask partners in firms with management responsibilities, often they don’t know…last_img read more

Posted in svmkhfch

first_imgSome 98% of new laws introduced by the government in 2009 were brought in as statutory instruments without full parliamentary debate, research has revealed today. Data from legal information provider Sweet & Maxwell showed that the number of laws introduced by the government during the last year rose by 16% to 2,492, up from 2,148 in the previous 12 months. This is the equivalent of almost 10 new laws per working day, and was the largest number of new laws introduced since 2001, the study said. Alina Lourie, director of Enterprise-Wide Solutions at Sweet & Maxwell, said: ‘Historically there does tend to be a spike in new legislation following an economic crisis. ‘There is pressure to introduce new laws both to deal with the fallout from the recession and to try to tackle the causes of the crisis.’ Examples of specific credit crunch related laws introduced in 2009 include: The Value Added Tax Regulations 2009; Northern Rock Transfer Order 2009; Northern Rock (Tax Consequences) Regulation 2009; Landsbanki Freezing (Revocation) Order 2009; and the Bradford & Bingley Compensation Scheme Order 2009.last_img read more

Posted in svmkhfch

first_imgSouth-west firm Burges Salmon will not face the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal following allegations that it gave inappropriate legal advice to farmers, a long-running investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority has decided. The SRA, which for two years considered allegations about advice given by Burges Salmon to farmers on agricultural mortgages and breach of conflict rules, said today that there was ‘no viable prospect’ of successful disciplinary proceedings against the firm. The SRA said that it has closed the investigation, which it began in September 2008, and that there will be no further action. SRA chief executive Antony Townsend said: ‘This has been an exceptionally complex investigation, raising unusual issues. We appreciate that the former clients will be very disappointed, but we have reached our conclusion after exhaustive consideration of the issues, and having taken expert external legal advice. The conclusion was that there was no viable prospect of successful disciplinary proceedings. ‘We regret that the investigation took as long as it did. There was a very large quantity of documents to review. We have reviewed its handling and identified aspects where there was scope for speedier progress. We are applying these lessons in the management of future complex investigations.’ Burges Salmon said today in a statement: ‘We have co-operated fully with the SRA throughout this long-running investigation, which we are pleased has been closed by the SRA without any findings of breach of the professional conduct rules by Burges Salmon or any of the firm’s solicitors. ‘We are pleased that the SRA has confirmed in relation to the allegations of conflict of interest and failure to act in clients’ best interests, that it could not conclude that we should have acted differently, or that we failed to act in the best interests of our agricultural/farming clients. We remain committed to maintaining the highest standards of professional conduct.’last_img read more

Posted in jeljoqyb

first_imgA decision in the US on whether or not to allow UK alternative business structures to operate across the Atlantic is unlikely to be made until well after 2012, the new American Bar Association (ABA) president Stephen Zack told the Gazette in an interview this week. Zack said he anticipates that existing prohibitions – if they are removed at all – will remain in place until well after the ABA completes its study of ABSs, or until US courts rule on the legality of the new structures. He suggested that the issue might reach the US Supreme Court (pictured). The long timeframe means that City and national firms with a US presence which are seeking to convert to ABSs may see their plans delayed further. In the UK, ABSs will be able to begin operations from 6 October 2011. ‘This whole issue will be taken in small bites,’ Zack said. ‘There is no proposal to have ABSs similar to those in the UK. I have spoken to your bar leaders and public officials, and I think a lot of them have serious questions as to how it’s going to succeed.’ The ABA has previously said that it will not make any decision on whether to permit ABSs until its ethics commission 20/20 reports in 2012 . But Zack suggested that the ABA house of delegates would not recommend any amendments to state legislatures until well after the report’s publication – if at all. Zack said that, if the ABA does decide to embrace ABSs, then the association would suggest model rules to state legislatures, which would then decide whether or not to adopt the rules as law.last_img read more

Posted in taxswawl

first_imgThe European Commission (EC) will launch a Europe-wide consultation on collective actions next month, as it attempts once again to harmonise laws and improve access to compensation for individuals and small businesses. Announcing the forthcoming consultation in a speech at the University of Valladolid in Spain last week, competition policy commissioner Joaquín Almunia said that citizens and businesses need effective rights to obtain compensation, regardless of where they are in Europe. Almunia, alongside consumer policy commissioner John Dalli and justice commissioner Viviane Reding, signed a joint information note last week resolving to pursue the issue of collective actions. The EC failed to push through a directive on collective actions at the end of last year, following pressure from the European Parliament, which claimed that businesses would be exposed to abusive litigation under the proposed measures. ‘Every year, large numbers of small businesses and ordinary people in the EU are effectively deprived of their rights as economic actors and as citizens,’ said Almunia. He added: ‘We must identify safeguards that will prevent importing a US-style litigation culture. Collective action in Europe has not led to abuse – and this is something we should be proud of.’ Five ‘common principles’ will underpin the collective redress policy: effective compensation for those who have suffered damage; the need for measures to avoid abusive litigation; opportunities to resolve disputes through settlements or alternative means; the ability to enforce collective judgments throughout the EU; and the provision of adequate case financing for citizens and small businesses. Almunia said that only state bodies and certified non-profit organisations would be allowed to bring actions, and that any damages awarded would go entirely to victims and not to the representative entity. He said the commission’s work, although aimed at private enforcement of competition rules, would be applied to other areas such as environment and consumer protection. The public consultation will run until February 2011. In the second half of 2011 Almunia will present a ‘specific proposal on antitrust damages actions’ to the commission, which will ‘set common standards and minimum requi­re­ments for national systems of antitrust damages actions’.last_img read more

Posted in kirlkiav

first_img The second appellant company (E) appealed against a decision ([2009] EWCA Civ 1075, [2010] ICR 642) that it was not entitled to rely on the defence of fair comment in a libel action brought against it by the respondent members of a musical act (J). E had promoted J’s shows for a time. A booking at the Landmarc Hotel which E had arranged had been cancelled by J shortly after it was made. A booking at Bibis Restaurant had resulted in a rebooking, which J arranged directly with the venue rather than through E, as was required by a re-engagement clause in the parties’ contract. E stopped representing J and published a posting on its website which contained a partially misquoted extract from an email sent by J to E. The posting stated that J were not professional enough to feature in E’s portfolio, and had not been able to abide by the terms of their contract. It also stated that ‘following a breach of contract’, J had advised E that the terms and conditions of contracts held no water in legal terms. The Court of Appeal held that the defence of fair comment should not be permitted to stand on the strength of the alleged breach of contract in relation to the Landmarc booking, as it had occurred 14 months before the alleged breach which had led to the publication. The court also held that the Bibis breach could not be relied upon, as the contract and the term allegedly breached had not been identified in the publication. In reaching that conclusion, the court relied on Lord Nicholls’ fourth proposition in relation to fair comment in Tse Wai Chun Paul v Cheng [2001] EMLR 31 CFA (HK), namely: ‘The comment must explicitly or implicitly indicate, at least in general terms, what are the facts on which the comment is being made. The reader or hearer should be in a position to judge for himself how far the comment was well founded.’ E and the interveners, who represented newspaper and broadcasting interests, invited the instant court to develop the common law of fair comment, so that it was simplified and liberalised. E submitted that it did not matter that the readers of the posting had no knowledge of the facts in relation to the two breaches of contract referred to, and were unable to judge for themselves how far the comment was well founded. E argued that Lord Nicholls’ fourth proposition was inconsistent with the judgment in Kemsley v Foot [1952] AC 345 HL. Held: (1) Lord Nicholls’ fourth proposition in Cheng could not be reconciled with Kemsley. Where adverse comment was made generally or generically on matters that were in the public domain, it was not a prerequisite of the defence of fair comment that the readers should be in a position to evaluate the comment for themselves, Kemsley followed, Cheng explained and Lowe v Associated Newspapers Ltd [2006] EWHC 320 (QB), [2007] QB 580 considered. It was now possible for people to make public comment about others via the internet, and millions of people took advantage of that opportunity; it would often be impossible for readers to evaluate derogatory comments without detailed information about the facts that had given rise to the comments. If Lord Nicholls’ fourth proposition were to apply, the defence of fair comment would be robbed of much of its efficacy. Lord Nicholls was not correct to require that the comment must identify the matters on which it was based with sufficient particularity to enable the reader to judge for himself whether it was well founded; however, the comment must identify at least in general terms what it was that led the commentator to make it. The fourth proposition should be rewritten as ‘next the comment must explicitly or implicitly indicate, at least in general terms, the facts on which it was based’ (see paras 90-105 of judgment). (2) The reforms suggested by E and the interveners would radically alter the nature of the defence of fair comment, and would not necessarily serve to simplify defamation actions. The proposed reforms went beyond changes that could properly be made by the Supreme Court in the orderly development of the common law. There was, however, a case for reform, and the whole area merited consideration by the Law Commission, or an expert committee. The only reform that should be made by the instant judgment was one that had already received judicial approval in the case of Reynolds v Times Newspapers Ltd [2001] 2 AC 127 HL: the defence of fair comment should be renamed ‘honest comment’, Reynolds referred to (paras 110-117). (3) E’s defence of fair comment should be reinstated. E could not rely upon the Landmarc breach to support the defence: the Landmarc breach was not referred to in the posting, nor did it form part of a generic allegation of misconduct. E could, however, rely on the Bibis breach: the posting sufficiently identified the breach as part of the subject matter of the comment, albeit that the breach was not particularised. Appeal allowed. Defamatory statements – Defences – Fair comment – Libel Spiller & Anor v Joseph & Ors: SC (Lords Phillips (president), Rodger, Walker, Brown, Sir John Dyson): 1 December 2010center_img David Price (solicitor-advocate) for the appellants; William Bennett (instructed by Pattinson & Brewer) for the respondents; Andrew Caldecott QC, Sarah Palin (instructed by Reynolds Porter Chamberlain) for the interveners.last_img read more

Posted in orcpgudc

first_img Chris Torrance (retired), Bristol I have always enjoyed articles in the Gazette by James Morton, including a recent item about judges. I first saw Lord Goddard in the late 50s, while an articled clerk in London. I often dropped in to the Royal Courts of Justice for a bit of light relief from outdoor chores (stamping documents, issuing writs, visiting the Land Registry in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, etc, etc). I liked Goddard’s court because one could usually hear appeals against sentence which, particularly in his case, were very quickly dispatched. Although I sometimes found Goddard alarming, I never saw him pick his nose. However, he did provoke a favourable comment from an elderly lady watching the proceedings who, on Goddard dismissing an appeal, and in a voice not very sotto, said: ‘Oooh, isn’t he nice.’ Her friend nodded vigorously in agreement. Clearly the former must have been deaf, or she was speaking ironically. last_img read more

Posted in awzhpora

first_imgThe Ministry of Justice risks making ‘ill-informed’ cuts to services when attempting to slash £2bn from its budget, unless it gathers adequate data and fully understands what it spends, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said today. In a report on financial management at the MoJ, the government spending watchdog says there is a risk that, in cutting its budget by 23% from £9bn to £7bn, the ministry ‘will not achieve best value for money and will not understand properly the impact of cost reductions on frontline services’ without ‘combined financial and operational performance data’ and ‘a full understanding of its costs’. The report says that the MoJ ‘lacks a consistent approach’ and that until recently was ‘failing to place a sufficiently strong focus’ on financial management. However, the report says that ‘the general direction of travel is right and the ministry is to be congratulated on its improvements so far’. The PAC report also criticised the failure of the MoJ to recover £1.5bn in uncollected fines and penalties, up from £900m in 2005/06. Committee chair Margaret Hodge MP said: ‘If the Ministry of Justice is to minimise the impact on its frontline services of its tough spending settlement, it must fully understand the cost and value of those services. But the ministry and its arm’s length bodies currently lack that detailed information. ‘It is simply not acceptable that, after two years’ work, the ministry still does not fully understand the cost of its staff activities in its largest executive agency. This is indicative of the poor state of financial management in this ministry. ‘We do not share the view of the ministry that there is little it can do to influence the behaviour of its arm’s length bodies. Improvement is badly needed here, as it is in the area of fee recovery and fines collection.’ Hodge criticised the MoJ for being the only government department to deliver its accounts late in 2009/10. ‘There is a risk that the ministry will make ill-informed cuts to services if it makes cost savings without a proper understanding of value for money,’ the report says. ‘Given the size of the central resource available to the ministry, a comprehensive understanding of the costs and value of services must be a priority.’ In October, the government ordered the MoJ to cut its budget by 23% from £9bn to £7bn by 2014/15. The Public and Commercial Services Union warned at the time that 15,000 of the department’s 80,000 jobs would be put at risk. In November, the PAC grilled MoJ permanent secretary Suma Chakrabarti after a July report of the National Audit Office found that the MoJ lacked understanding of the costs of its policy proposals, and did not properly understand the costs of its activities in prisons, the probation service and the courts. Chakrabarti admitted at the time that the department had a ‘fair way to go’.last_img read more

Posted in oohiwmwh