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Fee compromise – wide release clause

There has been a very interesting decision involving an agreement between a firm of solicitors and its former client over unpaid fees, with the terms of the compromise settlement then prohibiting the client (and associated company) from suing for negligence over the claim that was being handled. There are lessons in it for all solicitors.
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PII – disclosure obligations

The minimum terms and conditions of PII cover are being changed to bring them in line with Insurance Act 2015. The result will be a higher standard of disclosure imposed on solicitors.
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Moves – anti-poaching

The sudden loss of a profitable team can be a devastating blow to any practice. That is why most partnership agreements contain provisions designed to deter such movement. But, it can be difficult to find the right balance. Some suggestions are:
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SDT – Principle 1

There have been concerns raised about the way in which the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has been interpreting Principle 1: ‘you must uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice’.
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Costs budgets – Precedent H

The new costs budgeting rules came into force on 6 April 2016. The most important change involves the times for filing the Precedent H form. If the claim is valued at less than £50,000, it now needs to be filed with the directions questionnaire. If the case is valued over £50,000, a Precedent H must be filed 21 days prior to the costs and case management conference (CCMC).
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Client advice – general risks

Specialist tax solicitors were sued by a client over a failed tax avoidance scheme. While their advice about the scheme was not negligent, they were negligent in failing to give a ‘general warning’ (eg that HMRC might challenge the scheme).

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Accounts rules – ‘risk’

The old list of prescribed work and test procedures to be carried out by accountants when reviewing law firm accounts has been replaced by r43.A.1, which requires accountants to exercise their ‘professional judgement’ in deciding how much work is needed.

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Professional – update

The difficulties in the personal injury sector are well illustrated by recent results: Minster Law lost £35m last year, and Raleys (well known for coal claims) went bust [2016] LSG 21 March 3, while Slater and Gordon – struggling under last year’s £500m loss – is contemplating major restructuring and redundancies [2016] LSG 11 April 4. On a more upbeat note, the Co-op, which has already been through its restructuring, has moved from a £5m loss to a £700,000 profit. [2016] LSG 11 April 1. Quality Solicitors meanwhile is also changing its direction (again!) and is becoming increasingly allied with property services firm Move With Us; its last filed accounts showed a loss of £2.7m.

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Professional – deposit protection

The Law Society has updated its practice note on deposit protection for client accounts following the protection limit being reduced from £85,000 to £75,000.

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Client account – not a bank facility

The Law Society issued guidance on 18 December 2014 on the improper use of client accounts as banking facilities for clients (see our November 2015 issue, p34). 
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Last year, we had county court claims in Cardiff and Truro in which it was held that the encroachment of Japanese knotweed would be actionable as a ‘private nuisance’. The Cardiff cases have now... Read more...
Procedure – expert witnesses
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Expert witnesses must comply with court rules and related guidance appropriate to their area of expertise. New guidance for paediatric expert witnesses in family proceedings has now been issued. Read more...
Self-employed – or worker?
Wednesday, 12 September 2018
The Pimlico Plumbers case was seen as a victory for workers in the gig economy, with the Supreme Court looking at the reality of the relationship (rather than the legal labels attached). So, what... Read more...
Offences – mens rea
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This was a pre-trial appeal of a ruling at a preparatory hearing. The two appellants (A) faced charges under s17 Terrorism Act 2000 of sending money overseas, or arranging to do so, knowing or having... Read more...

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